Replacing ash trees outside City Hall in Sioux Falls

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Extreme cold and spring flooding may have delayed the effects of the Emerald Ash Borer in parts of KELOLAND but ash trees are still very much at risk. Back in November, Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken launched the “ReLeaf Project” to raise funds to plant new trees as ash trees are removed.

These young trees are getting a new home outside City Hall. Mayor Paul TenHaken says they’ll be taking the place of a few decades-old ash trees removed this past weekend. 

“I wanted Palm trees actually right here. Duane said those wouldn’t take so we had to go with his favorite, ginkgo trees,” TenHaken said. 

The tree planting ahead of Arbor Day this Friday is symbolic of what’s taking place across Sioux Falls. Ash trees are being removed from neighborhoods and city-owned property to make way for new trees. 

“Arbor Day in Sioux Falls has a little bit of a special meaning this year because we’re obviously doing a pretty substantial reforestation effort in our city. Not only this year but for many years to come because of the emerald ash borer,” TenHaken said. 

26-percent of the city’s tree population is ash trees. 

“That’s created a pretty big lift for our city as it relates to responding to the emerald ash borer which is really going to kill a lot of trees over the next decade,” Kearney said. 

The two trees that are being planted behind me are ginkgo trees. They’re part of a variety of trees the City of Sioux Falls is planting to have a diverse population.

“We’re not going to lose a large majority of our trees. We’re going to have a lot of diversity and so maybe there’s five percent of the trees we lose versus the much larger percentage we’re talking about with our ash trees,” Kearney said. 

“We take the blows that nature sometimes gives us. Nature dealt us the emerald ash borer. We’re responding in the only way Sioux Falls knows how to and that’s with some resilience,” TenHaken said. 

The city has six crews taking down about 30 ash trees a day if the weather cooperates. 

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