I was interested to read the most recent City Pages feature article on Ash removal in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Has your house or block been impacted yet?
It’s a very difficult issue, that’s for sure. The author painted a nice picture of a two-sided argument: preemptive removal versus pesticide treatment. Chainsaws versus chemicals. Full grown ash trees or diverse new baby trees? I was feeling a full grown Ash’s canopy level of shade from the author in regards to my liberal “native distrust of most anything [Big Chem] produces, regardless of what the experts might say.” But also agreed that spending thousands of dollars, time, and energy removing full grown so-far unaffected trees might be insane when there is a chemical treatment (read: poison that kills the beetles rather than chainsaws that kill the trees) available.
I hate seeing the X of death on any tree in the city. We don’t treat our urban forests very well to begin with and then to see a whole neighborhood facing deforestation, well it’s really alarming. On the other hand, I do have that native distrust of big chem – and it’s not because I’m some naive liberal hippie (well, that’s up for debate actually) who doesn’t believe in science. It’s because big chem makes A LOT of money selling toxic substances with little-to-no long term testing that have many many times led to catastrophe (hm hm BEES). Should we really be introducing high-dose potent systemic insecticides at the city level when we understand the damage they can do?
It would be easier if the insecticide of choice (emamectin benzoate) ONLY targeted Emerald Ash Borer, but the article even makes clear that it would impact any insect who consumes it. Pollinators and other native insects are already struggling from lack of non-toxic food and habitat or from competition with introduced pests and diseases, why add to that? Why add to that especially when we now know how important it is to have a diverse urban canopy. The city of Saint Paul has made it a priority to replace the Ash with many different species to increase biodiversity which will hopefully help us avoid another mass tree-ocide. So maybe it is worth the money and time now to grow a more resilient future?