MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is worried that an insect could lead to a tree shortage throughout the city.

The park board is in the middle of a long-term plan to remove 5,000 ash trees a year over eight years.

They are replacing those trees with other species as they go.

“It gave us a lot of shelter. It gave us a lot of shade,” said Minneapolis resident Anita Muldoon. “We grew very attached to it.”

Muldoon isn’t afraid to admit that it was a little emotional watching workers remove her stately ash tree, leaving her a stump as a souvenir.

(credit: CBS)

“It becomes a part of your house, home and neighborhood,” Muldoon said.

And the rest of Anita’s south Minneapolis neighborhood is about to experience what she did, with six other ash trees marked for removal.

“With ash trees now, they are either infested or probably infested,” said Ralph Sievert, director of forestry for MPRB. “If not, it’s just a matter of time before they are infested.”

He says the park board is removing ash trees and turning them into wood chips, or even material for cribbage boards.

They’re being replaced with Kentucky coffee trees, Buckeyes, Hackberrys and Lindens.

Sievert says they are resources that literally grow in value, helping with shade, storm water runoff and energy savings.

“I’m kind of estimating that by the time we get our public trees under control, that’s when the beetle population will affect the private trees and people will see those private trees disappearing,” Sievert said.

That could mean a tree shortage. The park board is taking care of 40,000 ash trees, but that still leaves about 175,000 on private properties.

Sievert wants homeowners to get proactive and have those removed, before it’s too late.

“The problem is the bugs are in the tree and you don’t know it for three years,” Sievert said. “By the time it shows it’s symptom, it’s pretty much shot.”

Sievert says most private properties haven’t been touched by emerald ash borer yet — but it’s coming soon.

Even if you don’t remove your ash tree, he’s asking that homeowners plant a new one so it has a chance to grow before the other one inevitably becomes infested.

[graphiq id=”fGobycw8W8d” title=”Emerald ash borer” width=”600″ height=”567″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/fGobycw8W8d” ]

John Lauritsen