UMN Extension to develop an ash management guide for family forest owners

By Julie Miedtke and Angie Gupta, UMN Extension and Mike Albers, MN DNR

We know that Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is a significant invasive forest pest.  EAB has the potential to cause extensive tree mortality in ash and seriously alter forest stand composition in stands with ash.  EAB may also negatively impact traditional forest product economies, plant communities, wildlife and water quality.  In May 2009, EAB was discovered in St. Paul, MN with subsequent detections in Minneapolis and Houston County-make it a very real threat to Minnesota’s forested landscape.   Currently, there are several joint efforts between agencies to make educating the public and communities throughout Minnesota on EAB.

Many people learned during the Black Ash Symposium held in Bemidji in May 2010, the ash genus (Fraxinus) is a significant component of Minnesota’s landscape with nearly 1 billion trees.  Minnesota’s wetland hardwood forests are more than 50% ash.  Land managers recognize the variability and complexities among native plant communities, especially in relation to hydrology.  There is also general consensus among forestry professionals on the lack of silvicultural knowledge to manage ash stand with regard to EAB (MyMinnesotaWoods produced a video on this topic in 2009).  Currently, natural resource professionals are working to address this issue on public lands.  Researchers are now launching ash management research projects that will help us learn more about the ash resource and develop strategies to maintain the resiliency of our forests.

But how do we help Minnesota’s Family Forest Landowners who own approximately one third of Minnesota’s forest when we aren’t really sure ourselves?

This fall, Angie Gupta and I will facilitate an expert panel (DNR, University of Minnesota, US Forest Service and many others) to develop recommendations for family forest landowners using a tool known as “the Delphi Process”.  The Delphi process is a method for structuring a group communication process that allows all voices to be heard.   The Delphi process has been touted as an effective way that allows a group to deal with complex problems, especially when asked to predict future ecological consequences of plans that have never been tried.  After the panel settles on content and preliminary recommendations, a publication for this special audience will be written and distributed in May 2011.

Do you have ash in your Minnesota woodland?  If you have questions or comments about the future of your ash, leave a reply below.

Sponsors of the Ash Management Guide for Family Forest Landowners include: the Renewable Resources Extension Act, DNR-Forestry, and the MN State Stewardship Funds.

Julie Miedtke is an Extension forester in Itasca County. She's based in Grand Rapids.

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  1. The future of ash trees is of great concern for me.High quality, black and green ash are a large component of my 240 acre,sustainably managed, “Big Woods” tree farm in Isanti county Minnesota.
    As a “First Detector” trainee, I monitor my forest practically on a daily basis, as I live on the land and work in the woods.My site would be a key location for “purple traps” and “Trap Trees”.
    I would be keenly interested in any ash tree research, and would consider offering my Tree Farm as a site for study.

    1. Dave, that’s fantastic. Thank you for the comment and for your commitment and service as a first detector. Monitoring woodlands for forest health threats is becoming essential, and volunteers like you play an important role in helping to quickly identify and address new outbreaks.

  2. I’m not sure what the MDA looks for in good sites for purple traps (I think they’ve about done away with trap trees because they’re so expensive to peel later), but you could contact them at Arrest the Pest and inquire. With your monitoring in the woods and commitment to the First Detector program they many entertain the idea.