WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 19, 2010, 08:19 AM

Fargo steps up effort to fight emerald ash borer

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - The city of Fargo is stepping up its efforts to fight diseases and bugs, like emerald ash borer, that kill ash trees. An aggressive program is underway to educate property owners of the problems and how to handle them.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

Starting tomorrow, city workers will put blue bands and these signs around ash trees. They will hang along the marathon route. The idea is to take care of infested trees before a major outbreak.

“In the past, we were a little more hesitant to remove an ash.”

After years of fear, Fargo forestry workers are fighting to keep ash trees alive.

“This year is rather heavy. The last two to three years haven't been so bad. You drive through neighborhoods where's it's predominately ash trees, this is a problem.”

18 thousand line the streets. Those don't include in parks or on private properties. 35 percent of trees in Fargo alone are ash.

“Try to get that down to a manageable number like 10-15 percent.”

“It'll take years for that to occur so we've kind of been doing it one by one, property by property, call by call.”

Workers will soon start removing problem trees if a homeowner calls.

“If people don't want it removed, we won't remove it.”

Then replace them for free the following year, not with ash.

“Bir Oak, a lot of Lindens, Hackberry, Iron Wood.”

While those trees will line boulevards before emerald ash borer strikes, an annual disease is already plaguing ash trees. Ash infract nose is causing more trees to loose their leaves. Increased moisture is to blame, but be aware that's not reason enough to cut a tree down.

“The trees that have lost their leaves now, a healthy vigorous tree should re-leaf.”

Some tips: Keep trees watered, rake up leaves, and prune dead branches. An increase in the city water bill is paying for the educational effort and trees. Since January, homeowners have been paying about 30 cents per month more.