Plan for a future with fewer ash trees

Minnesota now has more ash trees than any other state, a claim held by Michigan until emerald ash borer (EAB) arrived there and destroyed millions of ash beginning in 2002.

Eli Sagor photo

Ash is an important part of Minnesota’s forest environment and our communities. It is also very common in wind and snow fencing around the state.

University of Minnesota Extension recognized the serious impact EAB would have when it helped fund and develop the EAB First Detector program in 2007. The program trains dedicated citizens to look for the first signs of this invasive forest pest, and trainees were involved in the first discovery of EAB in Minnesota last year.

Since 2007, Extension’s EAB education has broadened to include Forest Pest First Detectors, EAB Community Preparedness and numerous other training opportunities. Additionally, Extension has begun to develop ash management recommendations for private forest landowners.

If you have ash trees on your property, now is the time to plan for a future with fewer ash trees. If you live within 15 miles of known EAB infestations in St. Paul, Minneapolis or Houston County, consider insecticides for your trees. If you live anywhere else in the state, you need to start preparing for a future without ash.

Here are some helpful tips for homeowners:

  • Think outside the box. Contemplate a wider choice of tree species appropriate to your site and needs.
  • Underplanting. Consider planting shade-tolerant trees beneath canopies of existing trees.
  • Diversify the species you select. Tree and plant diversity will help prevent future large-scale mortality the next time we discover a major pest attacking a tree species. When Dutch elm disease killed the elms, for example, many communities planted ash. It would be unfortunate if we replanted with only maple (a tree already overplanted in many communities) and then found Asian longhorned beetle, an insect that kills maple.

Extension’s Tree and Shrub Selection: Recommended Trees for Minnesota by Region features resources for identifying trees suitable for your location. If you own woodlands, find woodland management recommendations and an informative video at EAB and Your Minnesota Woodlands.  Learn more about emerald ash borer at Extension’ EAB page.

Angela Gupta
Angie Gupta is an Extension educator with a focus on forest invasive species and private forest land management. She is based at the UMN Extension Rochester Regional Office.

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