Saint Paul Takes Steps Against Emerald Ash Borer

The St. Paul city council introduced an ordinance Wednesday requiring homeowners to remove ash trees infested with emerald ash borer once a city forester discovers them. A similar measure involving Dutch elm disease is already on the books.

The proposed ordinance would allow Saint Paul city foresters to enter private property to inspect trees suspected of being infested with the beetle. Any tree discovered with the beetle would promptly be declared a nuisance and would have to be removed within 20 days — or as few as seven days in an "emergency," such as a season in which the beetle is about to mature, according to the ordinance.

A mature ash tree can cost thousands of dollars to remove. Though the ordinance mentions offering possible financial help for the cost of removing trees to residents, no specific funding source has been identified. The ordinance also states city could cut down the trees of unresponsive property owners and bill them for the expense.

Since the emerald ash borer was first discovered in in St. Paul's St. Anthony Park neighborhood in May, 80 infested ash trees have been cut down because of an emergency state order. One Saint Paul neighborhood, Como Park, is even attempting an ash tree-less experiment.

"Eventually, all the ash trees (in St. Paul) are going to be gone. That's the reality. ... I don't think people realize yet what this could mean," Hahm said.

An estimated 20% of St. Paul's trees are ash. Emerald Ash Borer has also been discovered in ash tree-rich Falcon Heights.

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