Cold weather kills some emerald ash borer, doesn't change city's removal plan

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Sioux Falls, S.D. - Nearly nine months after the emerald ash borer was confirmed in Sioux Falls, the removal of thousands of targeted ash trees for 2019 is set to begin.

The city was hoping to start removing them last week, but those subzero temperatures halted the process.

But, it's possible the cold affected the emerald ash borers themselves.

“It’s not a great thing that we have to go through, but we also have known for a long time the situation we would be in once it got here just because of the sheer number of ash trees,” Sioux Falls parks operations manager Kelby Mieras said.

85,000 ash trees stand tall throughout Sioux Falls, but with the emerald ash borer confirmed here at home, the city made plans to jump right into action.

“Right now we'll remove about 2,200 street trees in 2019 as well as about 500 or so trees on public property, parks, library's, those kind of things,” Mieras said.

That’s just year one. In ten years, the chance of seeing an ash tree in Sioux Falls, is pretty slim.

“Once an ash tree becomes completely dead, they become brittle and they fall quickly and unpredictably,” Mieras said. “There are communities that have standing dead ash trees that are essentially pushing them over in an effort to keep people safe.”

To make sure that doesn’t happen, the city has come up with a 10 year response plan.

Last fall they began marking ash trees throughout the city with a blue number nine.

“In that area there were about 7,000 ash trees that were street trees and we marked about 2,200 of those trees for removal,” Mieras said. “That is in concert with our 10 year response plan.”

While many were hoping last week’s freeze might make an impact…

“The emerald ash borer is alive and well in communities that get much colder than we do here in Sioux Falls,” Mieras said.

Mieras said while the ash borer larvae may have taken some kind of hit…

“It’s not going to alter our response plan at this time,” Mieras said. “There's no evidence to suggest that the infestation has been greatly reduced. If removals don’t begin this week that they will begin next week.”

The trees will be removed throughout 2019 with the exception between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The city has hired three contractors to remove 1,200 of the 2,200 ash trees.

The city will remove the rest.