Emerald Ash Borer Issue Discussed at Joint House-Senate Hearing

January 23, 2023

Funding for cities to address this forest pest is expected in the governor’s budget and capital budget proposals.

State agencies and a wide range of interested parties were invited to make presentations to a joint meeting of the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee and the Senate Environment, Climate, and Legacy Committee to educate their members on status of emerald ash borer (EAB).

The presentations started with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency explaining the history and spread of the invasive emerald ash borer beetle in Minnesota.

The pest is now identified to be established in 37 counties in Minnesota. It will kill every ash tree wherever it spreads, although there are strategies for removal, replacement, and chemical treatment of ash trees to significantly slow the spread.

Funding needed to address the problem

The League joined with the Minnesota Shade Tree Advisory Committee to speak to the urgency for city funding to address EAB, as well as for the need for ongoing urban forest management financial and technical support.

During the last state budget cycle, the League supported efforts that resulted in a small amount of money being provided for local grants for tree replacement and the first ongoing funding to deal with EAB being provided to the DNR.

There have been several isolated infusions of grant funds for cities over the years, but no stable or substantial source of funding has been established.

Governor’s proposed budget includes funding

Gov. Tim Walz’s proposed budget for the next biennium will be released on Jan. 24, but it has already been announced that $15.2 million will be included for tree removal and replacement.

The proposal also includes just over $800,000 in ongoing base funding for EAB management in future budgets.

The League will support that proposal and will continue to press for significant ongoing funding for cities to deal with this growing and urgent issue that falls outside normal predictable local budgets.

Additional funding for EAB is expected to be in the governor’s capital budget when it is released on Jan. 26.

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