Albert Lea Tackles Emerald Ash Borer Infestation, 12,000 Trees at Risk

The Albert Lea City Council is addressing the emerald ash borer infestation that threatens approximately 12,000 ash trees in the community, partnering with Maier Tree and Lawn Care to offer treatment options to private residents and developing a comprehensive plan to mitigate the impact of this invasive insect on the city's urban forest." This description focuses on the primary topic of the emerald ash borer infestation, the main entity of the Albert Lea City Council, and the context of the community's urban forest. It also highlights the significant action of the city's comprehensive plan and partnership with Maier Tree and Lawn Care to address the issue. This description provides objective and relevant details that will guide the AI in creating an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as images of ash trees, city council members, and treatment processes.

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Nitish Verma
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Albert Lea Tackles Emerald Ash Borer Infestation, 12,000 Trees at Risk

Albert Lea Tackles Emerald Ash Borer Infestation, 12,000 Trees at Risk

The Albert Lea City Council convened on Monday to address the pressing issue of the emerald ash borer infestation that has put approximately 12,000 ash trees in the community at risk. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture confirmed the presence of the highly invasive insect in several areas of Albert Lea this spring, prompting the city to develop a comprehensive plan to treat and dispose of affected trees on both public and private properties.

Why this matters: The emerald ash borer infestation has far-reaching consequences for urban ecosystems and biodiversity, as ash trees play a crucial role in maintaining air quality, mitigating climate change, and providing habitat for wildlife. If left unchecked, the infestation could lead to widespread tree loss, compromising the health and resilience of urban forests.

According to Ryan Hajek, Assistant Director of Public Works, the infestation is expected to have a significant impact on the community. If left untreated, the emerald ash borer could cause extensive damage to the city's ash tree population within three to four years. The city has already implemented a plan to treat and remove ash trees on city-owned property and is now focusing on assisting private residents in managing the infestation on their properties.

To aid property owners, the city has partnered with Maier Tree and Lawn Care of Rochester, which will offer treatments for ash trees at a cost of $8 per inch diameter at breast height. This equates to less than $200 for most trees, making it an affordable option for residents seeking to protect their ash trees. Treatments are typically effective for two to three years. Residents also have the option to work with other city-approved arborists, and a list of these professionals is available on the city's website.

Third Ward Councilor Jason Howland expressed concern over the infestation, stating, "It's pretty scary stuff that this emerald ash borer is all over the place, so hopefully we can prevent as many trees as we can and save them." The city council is set to officially vote on the recommendations for private residents at its May 28 meeting. Residents interested in utilizing Maier Tree and Lawn Care's treatment services should do so by the end of July.

The emerald ash borer, believed to have originated in the United States from the Great Lakes area, was likely introduced through shipping containers. The insect was first confirmed in Freeborn County about two years ago. Ash trees infected with the emerald ash borer can become brittle and pose a safety hazard if not removed promptly. The city recommends that property owners dispose of removed ash trees for free at the city's transfer station to prevent further spread of the infestation.

As Albert Lea grapples with the emerald ash borer infestation, the city remains committed to maintaining and improving its tree canopy to retain the valuable benefits that trees provide to the community. The comprehensive plan to treat and dispose of affected ash trees on both public and private properties demonstrates the city's proactive approach to mitigating the impact of this invasive insect and preserving the health and beauty of its urban forest.

Key Takeaways

  • Albert Lea City Council addresses emerald ash borer infestation affecting 12,000 ash trees.
  • If left unchecked, infestation could lead to widespread tree loss and ecosystem damage.
  • Treatment costs $8 per inch diameter at breast height, making it an affordable option.
  • Residents can work with city-approved arborists to treat and remove infected ash trees.
  • City recommends disposing of removed ash trees for free at the city's transfer station.