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Why we cut

By: Tiffany Howard

Brittany McPhail cutting down an EAB infested ash tree at Great River State ParkCutting down trees to conserve them seems counter intuitive to some. When I first joined the corps I wasn’t aware of why we were cutting down trees besides to remove them for prairie restoration. Not only do we cut down trees for prairie restoration, but also to promote sprouts from the tree roots, to remove invasive species and  to slow down the spread of disease and bug infestations.

My crew (Rochester Pines) has spent the last couple weeks in Great River State Park cutting down ash trees. In Minnesota, and 18 other states, there are emerald ash borers, or EAB for short. EAB is an exotic beetle from Asia that loves ash foliage. The adult beetles don’t do much harm but the larvae love the insides of the ash trees, and after 2-3 years of eating, they cut off a tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients leading to tree death. This costs local governments, property owners, nurseries and forest industries millions of dollars each year. So to help curb the spread of EAB we cut down infested ash trees, pile them up and burn them so any remaining larvae that haven’t been eaten by woodpeckers cannot become adults and move on to uninfected trees. This has been the most effective way to lower the spread of EAB to northern Minnesota and other surrounding areas.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has also been experimenting with the use of a biological control, the parasitoid, Atanycolus hicoriae.  This isn’t the only method of control there are various other methods being used. You can check out more info about EAB, control methods, how to detect it and if it is present in your area by visiting the emerald ashborer website 

Remember, help curb the spread of EAB by purchasing only approved firewood and don’t carry wood off your property!