City looks to remove as many ash trees as possible before Memorial Day deadline

Sioux Falls, S.D. - The emerald ash borer continues to be a concern as it threatens hundreds of thousands of trees throughout South Dakota.

For more than a year, cities throughout the state have looked at ways to limit the spread of the pest.

Sioux Falls launched the relief project, an effort to reforest Sioux Falls and replant different varieties of trees.

But, the deadline to remove ash trees is just three days away and then you won’t see another ash tree removed again until September.

While city workers wrapped up removal Friday, they said there is still a lot of work left to do.

“So we've got an estimated 85,000 ash trees throughout the city,” Sioux Falls Park Operations Manager Kelby Mieras said.

Last fall the city removed more than 580 trees in the park system, but they still have a long way to go.

“2,125 street trees,” Mieras said. “To date we have 685 of those trees down.”

Mieras said he hoped to have more trees removed at this point.

“But of course everybody knows the type of spring we've had,” Mieras said.

Crews can remove between three to six trees a day.

Now they're fighting a new deadline: Memorial Day and after that, no trees can be removed again until Labor Day.

“If we do, we're likely to move those insects to a different part of the city that doesn’t have the emerald ash borer at this point,” Mieras said.

The city of Sioux Falls isn't the only entity fighting the emerald ash borer.

“Do you have a long term plan or are you just going to wait until the trees start dying off and then react to that?” Landscape Garden Centers Consultant Mike Cooper said. “So we want to be more proactive.”

Landscape Garden Centers has launched their "remove, treat or replace" campaign.

Team members will go out and meet with property owners and assess their ash tree situation.

“We know it’s not going to go away,” Cooper said. “We'll talk to them about which trees they want to treat or which ones might be better off being removed and replaced over time. So it might be a better idea to treat those trees because they still have value.”

Mieras said after Monday they will be focused on grinding tree stumps from the 685 ash trees they've removed.

He said grinding those stumps doesn’t effect the spread of the ash borer because it doesn’t bury itself down that far.

Mieras said after Labor Day they will still have around 1,500 trees to remove before December 31st.