Sioux Falls, S.D. - The Emerald Ash Borer is forcing the city of Sioux Falls to take action. Nearly 20 percent of all trees in city parks are ash trees. Now that the Emerald Ash Borer has arrived in town, those trees are going to start disappearing.
In 2019, the city budget proposal has $1.1 million set aside for ash tree removal. According to numbers from the Parks Department, there are 6 parks with more than 100 trees.
Yankton Trail Park has more than 170 ash trees. That's where we found Park Operations Manager, Kelby Mieras.
"The history of the infestation as its hit the United States has been that it kills every ash tree in town," Mieras said.
With odds like that, the city of Sioux Falls is taking drastic measures.
"Thin the herd. Reduce the population of ash trees. Then next year we'll take another look. We'll see how the infestation is starting to spread and how we could use treatments as a management tool at that point," Mieras said.
For the immediate future, it's all about removal. Crews will cut down more than 3,800 trees in Sioux Falls parks in the next year.
Mieras says when they are removing trees next year, they will be taking a lot things into consideration. For example, when they're removing trees in clusters like this, they'll probably only take one of the three at a time.
"We're not going to go into a park that's got 100 ash trees and cut them all down in one year. If a park has say 12 ash trees, it's possible we might go into that park and remove all 12 in a given year," Mieras said.
They won't start removing trees until after Labor Day, when the Emerald Ash Borer is done moving for the year.
Even while they plan to cut back, Mieras says they are planning ahead to replace the ash trees with more varieties to hopefully prevent this sort of mass elimination in the future.
"Even in a park the size of Yankton Trail people are going to notice. A little concerned about that, but we just want everybody to know that we're doing our best. The best that we can to manage the infestation," Mieras said.
We have been putting together a number of resources on the Emerald Ash Borer to protect your own backyard. Just head to our Emerald Ash Borer special page.