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Study: U.S. losing urban trees at alarming rate

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NORTH DAKOTA — People typically don't think of North Dakota as a state with lush forests, but we do like our neighborhood trees.

A new study says U.S cities are losing trees at an alarming rate.

As communities expand, some say trees are being pushed out — millions of them, in cities across the country.

"I know that as communities develop, expand and get bigger, yeah, there are some threats to the urban forest," says city forester, Scott Liudahl.

A new study done by the Weather Channel is showing that urban expansion is killing around 36 million trees per year, but in our area the trees aren't really in the way of expansion.

"When you think of Fargo, you don't think of trees a whole lot," says Liudahl.

For Minnesota and North Dakota, the two biggest causes of tree loss are the clearing of trees for farmland and the damage and diseases that insects cause.

"Emerald ash borer is an exotic pest first discovered in 2002 in Michigan. It has slowly spread to, the last I heard, was 30 states. It basically feeds on all species of ash," says Liudahl.

Despite the threat of tree-killing bugs, our tree population is in pretty good shape.

"We're not really losing, comparatively, as many trees to what they are in some of those areas," says Liudahl.

Which gives us some perks that some of the bigger cities might not get.

"There's a lot of benefits to large, mature trees on a property and it's important to continue to promote that even in a downtown area," says Liudahl.

One of those benefits is pollution control

"They basically are a giant air filter, and a big tree can suck out pollutants from the atmosphere as part of their biological process," says Liudahl.

Fargo is home to almost 7,000 mature American elm trees.