The U.S. Forest Service, Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry have provided funding to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for their battle against the emerald ash borer (EAB).
Three grants totaling $533,000 will help these state agencies work to reduce EAB populations and to prepare communities for the eventual arrival of this serious ash tree pest.
Two grants were awarded to DNR to help communities, one of which is Bemidji, prepare for the arrival of EAB and begin to reduce some of the risk that exists in Minnesota.
Bemidji was one of eight communities representing six ecological regions of the state and six population levels selected for the program. The others were Houston, Grand Marais, Mora, East Grand Forks, Worthington, Northfield and Mankato.
Alternative communities include Roseau, Montevideo, Grand Rapids, Cloquet, Brainerd and St. Cloud.
One grant is going to the DNR's Urban Forestry program and the other is going through the DNR to the University of Minnesota's Forest Resources Department to extend an ongoing effort.
The DNR Urban Forestry program grant focuses on creating and implementing preparedness plans for communities. DNR will hold a series of community preparedness summits to bring new information to communities and encourage interaction between community leaders and agency staff. The summits will be held in geographically distinct regions, including Thief Rivers Falls, Grand Rapids, Alexandria, Marshall, Rochester, and Roseville.
"This grant not only allows our outreach team to continue our community engagement and preparedness projects, it allows us to maintain the momentum, work more efficiently around the state, and hopefully expand the regional resource centers and directories to the point where eventually the entire state will have been inventoried and assessed," said University of Minnesota Urban Forestry professor Gary Johnson said.
"Quite honestly, without this funding the project would have stalled for an indefinite period."
Eight communities representing six ecological regions of the state and six population levels were selected for the program - Houston, Grand Marais, Mora, East Grand Forks, Worthington, Bemidji, Northfield and Mankato. Alternative communities include Roseau, Montevideo, Grand Rapids, Cloquet, Brainerd and St. Cloud.
The MDA grant will focus on reducing the known populations of EAB in the Twin Cities metro area. This work will include improving surveys in the area surrounding the known infestation, removing confirmed infested trees before EAB adults emerge, and strategically creating trap trees in infested areas. This project should buy additional time for other Minnesota communities to prepare and take action to react to EAB.
The emerald ash borer was first detected in Minnesota in 2009 in the Twin Cities metro area. EAB is an exotic beetle that was discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. The larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees, which disrupts the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients, and results in its death.