Urban Forestry Committee backs EAB grant contract

The $26,000 grant, requiring no local match, would create a tree inventory on Park Rapids public land and develop a plan to manage the spread of tree pests.

Park Rapids City Hall (Enterprise file photo)

The Park Rapids Urban Forestry Committee recommended Monday that the city enter into a grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to study and manage the spread of emerald ash borer on city property and boulevards.

Emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive beetle species known to destroy ash trees.

The city applied for the $26,000 EAB management grant this spring and the grant was awarded with no local match required.

Urban Forestry members discussed using the funds to have a contractor or city intern do a public tree inventory, develop an EAB management plan to slow the spread of the beetle, buy trees to plant as needed (provided the species are not over-represented in the community or considered noxious weeds by the state), and water the trees according to the city’s three-year maintenance plan.

EAB management strategies, identified in materials City Planner Andrew Mack presented to the committee, may include removing unhealthy trees, replacing them with more diverse species, treating healthy ash with an injectable pesticide, and tree planting to promote diversity and pest resistance in the city forest.


City forester Steph Pazdernik noted that watering newly planted trees exceeds the capacity of the city’s current parks maintenance staff. She also suggested looking into hiring an intern out of the forestry program at Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids.

The committee discussed possibly hiring a part-time employee to water the trees, with other duties as assigned by the public works supervisor. Committee chair Cheryle Wilke stressed the importance of having a budget for the project.

Mack noted that how many trees will need to be planted and watered will be determined by the tree inventory and the health of vulnerable tree species on city land.

Mack moved to submit the grant agreement to the city council for approval. The motion passed without dissent.

U.S. Hwy 71 and roundabout plantings

Mack also presented an update from Luke Johanneck with the Minnesota Department of Transportation about the plantings along the section of U.S. Hwy. 71 that were improved during MnDOT’s roundabout project last year.

In addition to trees needing to be replanted, much of the grass in these areas will have to be reseeded, Johanneck wrote. He also advised that salt hardiness and competition with weeds may have been factors in the plantings’ failure to thrive, and advised spraying for weeds and reseeding bare spots in the spring, to avoid salt hitting the young seed during the winter.

Mack said the warranty period for the plantings was extended after it became apparent that the trees and grass MnDOT put in would survive. He said business owners along the corridor complained about the failure of the plantings, some of which were not watered.

“I would think so,” said Wilke. “It’s our welcome into the city. I mean, 71 is a well-trafficked area. Why doctor up all the streets when it looks terrible when you first drive in?”


Mack said that MnDOT mows the roundabout, while businesses along the frontage roads are responsible maintain the boulevard. He said some areas have already been reseeded.

“I mow the fire hall,” said Pazdernick. “There is zero grass growing there. If they reseeded it, they’d better find a different seed,” adding that she thinks MnDOT needs to spend more money to seed that is better able to tolerate salt and drought.

Mack suggested that the planting would be more successful if it is watered, but Wilke agreed with Pazdernik that having the right kind of seed is key.

Tree trimming

Pazdernik reported that city parks and street maintenance personnel have been trimming trees on boulevards and public property.

“We’ve been doing this for three weeks,” she said. “The only thing that’s left right now is alleys. The street guys are sticking with that. I think they only have six alleys left.”

Pazdernik added that crews skipped a few places requiring homeowners’ consent due to the placement of the trees.

Helping to get this done, she said, is the fact that the parks and street maintenance staff are working together under one supervisor again, after several years when public facilities were under separate supervision.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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