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MINNEAPOLIS - It's not if, but when.

That's the approach that the city of Minneapolis is taking when it comes to its ash trees and infestations involving the dreaded emerald ash borer. On Monday, June 23, foresters from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) will begin marking non-symptomatic ash trees for removal, part of an ambitious eight-year plan to remove and replace an estimated 40,000 trees.

The preemptive removal is part of the MPRB's ash canopy replacement plan, which reduces the impact of tree losses by removing a small percentage of ash trees at a time and replacing them with a diverse range of tree species along each city block and within each park.

"Our goal is to replace approximately two to four ash trees on each block per season," said MPRB Director of Forestry Ralph Sievert. "Foresters will choose trees for replacement throughout an entire block so that properties are affected as evenly as possible."

The plan is for crews to replace 5,000 ash trees each year for eight years, with removal of ash trees during 2014-2021 and planting of replacement trees during 2015-2022.

Ash trees that don't show signs of infestation will be identified for removal with a green painted "X". Trees infested with Emerald Ash Borer will be marked with a green painted ring and removed as soon as possible.

Infested trees are counted as part of the 5,000 trees to be replaced each year. Any other tree species slated for removal are marked with orange paint.

For more information on the MPRB's ash canopy replacement plan, visit the MPRB website. You can also reach the MPRB Forestry Department via email forestry@minneapolisparks.org or phone 612-313-7710.

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