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You will see some changes in the coming weeks in our park forests as we partner with the North Dakota Forest Service to begin taking steps to address the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle (EAB).  

EAB was discovered in Moorhead, MN less than 15 miles from our area which tells us now is the time to act. Green Ash Trees are the predominant species of trees that are established in the more northern parts of West Fargo lining our boulevards, parks and river corridor. In order to best manage this threat, we will be removing strategic trees to get ahead of the problem. All trees that are removed, will be replaced with diverse species to compliment our urban forests to set our trees up to succeed as we move forward. The Tintes Park area and South Elmwood Ball complex will see some removal/replacements as well as adding a new tree plan for the Cloverleaf Park area. Our Forestry department has also chosen Ash trees that we will be injecting to help them resist the effects of EAB infestation as we all love our iconic trees in our neighborhood parks.

If you have Green or Black Ash trees on your property, it is a good time to start making decisions on how to get ahead of EAB. There are options to treat your trees or remove them and replace with a large selection of viable options. Reach out to your local tree professionals to get more information or advice for your situations. Please remember not to transport firewood across state lines to slow the travel of EAB as larvae can live under the bark for two years. There are many resources available through the North Dakota Forest Service, City Forestry program and feel free to email the West Fargo Park District Forestry department if you have any questions about EAB.

Tree Additions and Removals

Have you ever wondered how many trees are added and removed in the West Fargo Park system? The Forestry Department works on a budget to add trees, receives donations for trees planted as memorials, and grants are sought out to add to our park forests. Tree removals occur when trees suffer severe storm damage, die out due to disease, fluctuating moisture and drainage, or to make way for new buildings and infrastructure improvements. Here is a breakdown of trees added to our park system in the last 3 years.

2021: Our forestry staff was able to plant 55 trees in the park system

Trees planted as memorial donations: 5

2021 total = 60 tree additions

2022: Our forestry staff planted 50 tree additions

Trees planted by staff for replacement of damaged trees: 8

Trees planted by contractors in Service Club park:  18

2022 total = 76  tree additions

2023: Our forestry staff planted 114 trees, 32 of which were provided by a grant through the North Dakota Forest Service in the Meadowridge Park areas.

Trees planted as memorial donations: 8

Trees planted by contractors: 24 in the North Elmwood park improvement project.

2023 total = 146 tree additions

With tree additions come removals in some cases. The winter of 2022-23 was a harsh one for our trees with high snow heights giving hungry rabbits access to many crab trees in our more southern neighborhood parks. Most of these trees get replaced and using lessons learned, we choose varieties that are of a more animal resistant species for these areas.

Park improvements also will call for tree removals. Last season, a grouping of Green Ash trees in the shelterbelt in North Elmwood Park was removed for a new walking path heading from the ball fields to the north playground loop. The good news here is the trees will need thinning out with the threat of the Emerald Ash Borer beetle in the future and new varieties of trees were added back in to diversify the forest as well as be more able to thrive in the soils and conditions of the area going forward.

2024 is shaping up to be a big year for our Forestry department as we will be adding 52 trees to the park system through a grant awarded by the North Dakota Forest Service as well as 100 trees being planned for Rendezvous Park in an improvement project. These trees will all be contractor installed trees and our forestry staff is planning many more additions to parks this planting season.  The Forestry staff is always at the ready to plant memorial trees requested as well. As we grow, our additions are adding up.

Emerald Ash Borer Beetle: It’s on the way!

As we prepare for the arrival of the Ash Borer Beetle, here are some things to think about:

1. The Emerald Ash Borer Beetle (EAB) has already been found in 36 states in the US. Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota to name a few. It has been devastating to the Ash tree populations in all states and it has been located in Dilworth, MN last November which places it in a 15- mile distance to our West Fargo community. West Fargo has many Ash trees in the neighborhoods and Parks north of interstate 94. Our boulevards and Sheyenne River corridor is made up of 80% or more of Green Ash trees. Now is the time to prepare a plan for treatment or removals of Ash trees.

2. Can Ash trees be treated with insecticide for EAB?

Yes. It is feasible to treat an ash tree before it shows more than 50% decline. Local tree professionals have the equipment and method for treating trees. It would take many injections every two years to equal the cost of removing the tree.

3. What makes infested ash trees so dangerous?

The structural integrity of the tree becomes compromised when the tree is infested as the wood begins to dry, increasing the risk of branch or trunk breakage. The tree will become unpredictable and the chance of damage to property increases as the decline increases. It is more expensive to remove a dead or declining tree as it poses more of a threat to the safety of pedestrians, tree professionals and property.

4. Get the jump on EAB.

The goal of the West Fargo Forestry is to start removing Ash Trees strategically in areas where they could become unpredictable. Playgrounds, ballfields, and walking trails. Plans to have Ash Trees removed and replaced, or treated with insecticide will be initiated this spring and ongoing as we hope to spread out a problem over time rather than all at once.

5. How to proceed to preserve and recover our tree population?

Diversity with trees is the answer. Plant many different varieties to prevent mass infestations like we saw in the past with Dutch Elm and Ash trees. Tree species have come a long way through trials and studies with new varieties having resistance to pests, salt tolerance (boulevard plantings) and soil and drought tolerance.

We have the advantage in our area as we have already witnessed EAB move through and decimate other communities. Getting a head start on a plan is the best plan. Homeowners will need to make some decisions on whether to treat or remove green or black ash trees on their property. Check with your local tree professionals to help answer any questions about your ash trees or Emerald Ash Borer beetle. And remember not to transfer or relocate firewood across state lines as larvae can live in the bark and get a free ride to their next destination.

West Fargo Parks Memorial Tree Program

Did you know you can plant a tree in the park system in honor of someone? Whether you want to plant a tree in remembrance of a loved one, or simply plant a tree as a gesture of recognition for someone, you can add a tree to the park.  These trees are a great way to acknowledge a friend or family member while at the same time adding a valuable contributor to the urban forest.
With our Memorial Tree Program, you will pick from our list of trees, pick your location, and our forestry staff will plant your tree adding a plaque in which you can personalize the text. Beyond that, we will care for that tree for life.

Trees, besides being beautiful, are a great asset to the environment in that they aid in purifying our air, they provide housing for many species, they shade us and help cool our streets, they protect against wind, floods and water pollution and provide us with stress relief in general. The pros are endless. Trees that bloom in the spring help pollinators do their job to grow fruit while certain trees will give us a free show of their fall color and seasonal splendor.

Trees can be planted in early spring right up to late fall with  this program, but the best availability for tree choices is in the early growing season as suppliers have the best selection. Availability for trees and locations may vary. Check with us today. We would love to assist you in planting a Memorial Tree!

What are these green bags on the bases of trees throughout our city and park system?

The green bags you see are water retainers for young, newly planted trees that help them stay hydrated during their early years. Our park staff uses a three year care program for all tree plantings. These bags are an advantage as they slowly distribute water to the root system, making sure heat sensitive plantings remain hydrated while acclimating to their new homes. Each bag holds 15 gallons of water that slowly drips over time to make sure the tree gets the water it needs without overwatering. Having a cold bag of water on the base of the tree also has a cooling affect for the root system.  Being marked with a green bag also helps our staff easily identify which trees are on the watering route. During the hot, dry months of summer, our staff waters each tree every 1-2 weeks. There are approximately 250 trees on our three year care program at a time. Some trees fall off the route each year as they reach the end of their initial care period while new plantings are added. The Forestry staff runs two trucks carrying 350-400 gallons at a time to each grouping of trees in the park system. Later this fall , an improvement project will be adding 100 new trees to Rendezvous Park. These trees will be installed by a contractor.  Contractor planted projects usually come with a one year warranty but our staff is still inspecting all bags  and trees to make sure they are adequately watered throughout the growing season. Water bags usually last up to about 3 seasons as they can become sun checked and brittle but we have found that the cost of the bags vs. the benefit is well worth it.

West Fargo Parks Emerald Ash Borer Beetle Plan update:

The West Fargo Parks Forestry Dept has been busy in the last months implementing our plan to get ahead of the incoming Emerald Ash Borer Beetle. The park district will spend upwards of $8000.00 on equipment and Mectinite, the chemical used in tree injections to protect Green and Black ash trees. Our crew has moved through the North Elmwood Park areas injecting our beloved Ash trees in the playground circle. Some trees have an amazing diameter of 36 inches. Tintes Park has been completed with the 2nd ave boulevard ash trees removed and replaced through a grant obtained from the North Dakota Forest service. The remaining Ash Trees in Tintes Park have also been injected to repel and defeat EAB pests. Crews are now moving into Armour Park which our Forestry Dept views as a “tree Park” or “Forest area”. Many large Ash trees shade the park and make for an escape to nature as well as provide homes for many bird species and wildlife. By the time you read this update, We will have injected a large amount of Green Ash trees in the Meadowridge neighborhood and Park. In addition, the City of West Fargo has contracted all Meadowridge boulevard Ash trees to be injected through their Forestry Department, making for an even better coordinated effort to battle Emerald Ash Borer.

On another note, our crews have been working to slowly and carefully remove and replace Ash trees in the Charleswood lake area, Vets Memorial Arena area and Arbor woods park will follow. Please expect delays for replacement trees as stump grinding ends up being a fall project and tree locations may be replaced the following growing season. All Ash trees that are cut down are hauled out but remain within state lines to avoid spread of EAB as a good practice. You will start to see changes in our parks mainly north of interstate 94 as that is where the majority of our Ash trees are.

Any trees that are injected will be protected for two years and then we will need to re-inject trees again on a revolving cycle. It would take 28 years of injecting trees every 2- year cycle to equal the cost of removing the tree. We feel this is the right way to go about saving large trees that would take 50 years or more to grow as large as they are currently.

If you have any questions about EAB, please reach out to your local tree professionals, or if you have any questions about our EAB West Fargo Parks Plan, our Forestry department is ready to help.