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Maple Grove Launches 20-Year Plan To Save Ash Trees

MAPLE GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) -- A Minnesota city is getting aggressive in saving its trees. In Maple Grove, a 20-year plan is now in place to fight a deadly invasive species.

What once was a great ash tree is now a stump in front of Jim Erdmann's home.

"I was ecstatic because I get my yard back," he said.

Erdmann wanting it gone wasn't why the city of Maple Grove cut it down last fall.

"They confirmed that it was infested," he said.

Infested with emerald ash borer, a beetle species that kills ash trees.

"The trees here don't have any sort of natural resistance so it quickly builds up in numbers and frankly devastates trees in metro areas," municipal consulting arborist Ryan Spencer.

Spencer says almost one in five trees in the Twin Cities metro are ash trees, and thus susceptible to the deadly EAB.

"What can you do? You can get a preventive treatment. It's good for two years. It's injected directly into the tree," Spencer said.

That's exactly what Maple Grove is doing. About 2,000 ash trees in parks and public right-of-ways were treated last year, and 2,000 more will get it this summer. A couple hundred, including Erdmann's, get removed mainly because it's too late to save them.

"Something needed to be done. We couldn't just wait and watch these trees continue to diminish," Maple Grove right-of-way technician Kelly Matzke said.

For the next 20 years, Maple Grove will treat its ash trees and keep them alive. Erdmann works with dozens of municipalities and says this is one of the most aggressive ash borer plans he's seen.

"If you didn't treat those trees then you'd have to remove 2,000-plus trees. That cost is going to become very expensive very quickly," Matzke said.

The project is estimated to cost Maple Grove about $200,000 to $250,000. A treatment for an ash tree in your yard will likely run you a couple hundred bucks depending on the size.

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