St. Anthony West neighbors choosing to chemically treat ash trees

Blue bands placed by St. Anthony West Neighborhood volunteers, and laminated posters placed by Minneapolis Parks & Recreation tell complementary stories about what to do in the face of the invading Emerald Ash Borer. The park board will have EAB information and answer questions July 18 at 6:30 p.m. during a free neighborhood barbecue at Dickman Park. The neighborhood organization has identified trees to treat along Main, 2nd, 4th, and Marshall streets, 9th and 10th Avenues and a smattering of other locations. (Photos by Margo Ashmore)

The chemical is called TREE-äge with an umlaut over the a, pronounced like “triage,” the process of deciding who of those injured in disaster or war will survive even if they wait for attention, those for whom who immediate attention could make the difference, and who can not be saved.

St. Anthony West Neighborhood Organization (STAWNO) is paying for approximately 125 ash trees, or 20 percent of its canopy, to be treated. They’ll be injected with TREE-äge, active ingredient Emamectin Benzoate 4.0%, against the emerald ash borer (EAB).

About nine neighborhood volunteers wrapped the special trees with blue plastic informational banners May 10th.

“My goal is I don’t want to see streets left bare like Second Street,” said Chris Linde, an alternate on the board who spearheaded the project on the EAB task force. There, 22 trees were cut down this past winter after state officials found borer evidence in some of them. “If we just had four more trees,” he said, the blocks would not look so stark between 3rd and 5th Avenues.

Rainbow Tree Care, giving a 25 percent discount to the neighborhood, identified the trees to treat. Linde said, “they know more, and are less politically charged.”

He said “we gave them a list of criteria, like nice dimensions, gateway, sentinel; trees that are doing a good job. They won’t treat if a tree is too far gone,” like if it’s under a power line and has been butchered by utility-related trimming.

Linde said Rainbow is extending the discount to private parties in the area who want to treat trees on their own properties. “We hope we can get to the trees before the city or state gets to the trees. You can treat an infected tree, and the tree can recover.”

Rainbow marked several trees that are included within the fence at Elsie’s, 729 Marshall St. NE. Linde said it’s not certain whether those are on private land or on an easement.

There’s a final meeting to approve the tree map on May 22, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Main Street Lodge, 909 Main St. NE. STAWNO plans to use Neighborhood Revitalization Program money and Neighborhood Priority Plan money for the chemical treatments, which vary in price by size of tree.

The project was bid out to four potential vendors, “and we got three good ones back” from which Rainbow Tree Care was chosen, Linde said.

He credited neighbors for giving “a lot of help, this was not all my doing. It was nice of them to fill the gap needed. I hope it catches on and modifies the city’s plan.”

The City of Minneapolis Forestry Department has announced it will cut down about one fifth of the ash trees on public land each year, replacing the trees with more diverse selections. St. Anthony West neighbors hope to preserve a mature canopy on several streets for a longer time while new plantings catch up.

This past couple of weeks, crews have planted many new trees throughout Northeast, with telltale piles of wood chip mulch at the bases and Tree Gator watering bags around the slender trunks.

Soon, crews will grind stumps from old boulevard trees. Usually new trees are planted in totally different spots, though if there has been new sidewalk put in with a notch for a tree, they will do a deeper grinding so that a new tree can go in that same location, according to Foresty’s Northeast supervisor Gary Myhre.

The trees on Second Street were taken out too late to have replacements ordered for spring, so neighbors will have to wait until fall.

The best time to treat trees is when they’re moving water from roots to canopy; in spring when this process is most active, according to www.emeraldashborerfaq.com.

In a Frequently Asked Questions sheet of their own, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (of which Forestry is a department) stated that the park board is not chemically treating trees because “certain insecticides used to kill EAB are known to be partially responsible for the decline of bees. Since the long-term impacts to birds, pollinators and other species that ingest the insecticides…are unknown, the MPRB has chosen to use the most environmentally sound, insecticide -free approach possible.

The flyer states the treatments are only good for a year or two at a time. The city estimated that to treat 40,000 trees would cost $5.5 million; that works out to about $140 per tree.

    Our primary commenting system uses Facebook logins. If you wish to comment without having a Facebook account, please create an account on this site and log in first. If you are already a registered user, just scroll up to the log in box in the right hand column and log in.

    Margo Ashmore's picture
    Margo Ashmore

    Margo Ashmore is the editor of NorthNews.