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St. Paul mayor seeks $2.5M to fight emerald ash borer

August 22, 2018

St. Paul will likely spend more money fighting emerald ash borer in 2019 than ever before, but it still wont be enough to keep pace with the fast-spreading infestation.

Mayor Melvin Carters proposed 2019 budget includes about $2.5 million for removing, treating and replacing infected ash trees on boulevards and in city parks and golf courses, compared to about $1 million in 2018. Parks officials say they need nearly $4.8 million next year if theyre going to meet their goal of eradicating emerald ash borer in the city by 2024.

The parks departments request, outlined in a budget document that every city department submits annually, plans for removing 5,456 infected ash trees in 2019. With the allocation that Carter has proposed, the department would be able to remove 2,153 trees, according to the document.

The emerald ash borer infestation was first discovered in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood in 2009, and by 2016 had spread across the city. The parks department has fallen behind on cutting down ash trees, grinding up their stumps and planting new trees. Without more funding, the backlog of infested trees will likely continue to grow.

Minneapolis, which is dealing with its own emerald ash borer infestation, levies a property tax to pay for removing and replanting trees. St. Paul does not, and so must seek out new funding sources every year.

In 2018, the St. Paul parks department supplemented the citys emerald ash borer allocation with a one-time, nearly $1.5 million grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Under Carters proposal, the amount of money the parks department has to fight emerald ash borer would be the same in 2019 as in 2018, but the city would foot a larger portion of the bill.

Money for cutting down ash trees, like the rest of the 2019 budget, wont be finalized until December. The parks department has an array of other needs, including upgrades to recreation centers across the city.

When it comes to emerald ash borer, the parks department is already planning to look for money elsewhere, said department spokeswoman Clare Cloyd.

Its definitely on our radar to seek other sources, she said.

Emma Nelson 612-673-4509

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