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FORESTRY FOCUS

FEBRUARY FORESTRY FOCUS

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.