Trudy Dunham and Miriam Friesen are on a mission: they want to replace the nearly 100 ash trees removed from the Hamline Midway neighborhood faster than city officials are proposing.
Last month, the city of Saint Paul cut down 69 mature ash trees on Minnehaha Avenue, 21 on Asbury Avenue, and six on Simpson Street – all between Snelling and Hamline avenues.
The city’s timeline for dealing with the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in District 11 is to remove all the ash trees in 2021, to grind the stumps in 2022, and to plant new boulevard trees in 2023.
Dunham and Friesen, along with many community groups, business owners, and residents believe that this response is too slow.
Organizations lending support include the Earthkeepers of Hamline United Methodist Church, the Hamline Midway Coalition, the city of Saint Paul Forestry Department, Hamline Midway Neighbors for Peace, Hamline Midway Progressive Women, Gingko Coffee Shop, Midway Animal Hospital, Friends of Horton Park, and Friends of Hamline Park.
Friesen explained, “Our goal is to streamline the whole process from three years to one. We want to see new boulevard trees in the ground this fall.”
According to Dunham, Saint Paul’s plan is to increase the city tree canopy from 32% to 40% by 2030. She said, “With that in mind, we really need to accelerate the process of replanting. Boulevard trees take a long time to mature.”
She continued, “We are working with all of our partners to create a more climate resilient community and having a robust tree canopy is part of that. Trees help absorb air borne pollution; trees dissipate heavy rain and reduce the amount of rainwater that flushes into stormwater sewers; trees provide shade, which cuts down on the need for air conditioning; trees create beauty and a strong sense of neighborhood.”
Structured removal of trees
Structured removal is the removal of blocks of infested ash trees throughout the city. Saint Paul’s plan is that all stumps created from 2021 ash removals will be treated with an herbicide (Pathfinder II RTU) to prevent sprouting. The stumps will be ground out in 2022, at the earliest. Stump grinding usually starts in April, weather permitting.
The city of Saint Paul has indicated that they will work with Replant Minnehaha Trees to permit early stump grinding – if the work is done by a city-approved landscape company.
In the past, the focus for structured removal was on areas that were planted in a monoculture of ash trees. Due to the continued spread of EAB infestation, structured removal is now used for all ash trees. Once an ash tree becomes infested, it takes 3-5 years for the tree to die. By removing trees before they die, the city’s goal is to reduce the number of dead and potentially hazardous ash trees in the city.
The Forestry Department inoculates (rather than removes) a portion of high value ash trees on boulevards and in parks that meet the following criteria: trunks are between 10-20 feet, trees appear to be in good health, and there is no interference with utility wires, street lights, or roadway clearance. Given the city’s budget constraints, and high levels of EAB infestation, no new trees will be added to this program.
Replant Minnehaha Trees has set a goal of raising $12,000-$15,000 to grind the stumps that were left behind from the recent structured removal in Hamline Midway. In addition, they’ve applied to Tree Trust for a Green Futures Grant for boulevard replacement trees. The grant is not an allocation of money, but an allocation of trees.
Dunham and Friesen hope they will receive 50-100 ready-to-plant boulevard trees in the fall. They will also need to recruit volunteers to help plant and maintain the trees, which will not be the city’s responsibility.
Launch party July 15
A celebration will be held at Hamline Church Greenway on Thursday, July 15 from 3-6 p.m. with a program starting at 4 p.m. City of Saint Paul Chief Resilience Officer Russ Stark will speak at the event, in support of replanting Minnehaha Avenue’s trees. The Hamline Church Greenway is located at 1524 Englewood Ave.
Representatives from the city’s forestry department, tree specialists, and local organizations and businesses will be present. In addition to learning to better care for trees, the focus will be on climate resiliency and dealing with summer heat in the absence of trees. Learn more about the city’s efforts to manage the EAB infestation, as well as their long-term plans to extend the tree cover city-wide. Get the latest information about what varieties of trees are being suggested for replanting in a changing climate.