The City of St. Paul is facing an environmental crisis we have not seen since the great Dutch Elm Disease outbreak that began in 1977.
From 1978 until 1988 the City lost nearly 60,000 Elm trees or almost 56% of its entire population.
Sadly, the politics of the time had some members of City government unwilling to spend money to effectively address the Dutch Elm Disease outbreak.
For a fascinating read about the political climate in the City at the time that led to worsening the effects of the impact of Dutch Elm disease I encourage you to check out this link:
The unfortunate reality of today’s political climate isn’t that the City isn’t willing to spend money — it’s just that the City Council wasn’t willing to spend money on mitigating the impact of clear-cutting trees in St. Paul.
Today, the City of St. Paul faces an outbreak of Emerald Ash Borer – a pernicious disease that will take the life of a tree within 4-8 years.
I have seen statistics that show that since 2002, the Emerald Ash Borer infestation has killed over 250 million ash trees across the eastern United States and Canada.
My guess is that is a low-end number and we face an even more sobering loss of these beautiful trees in our communities.
Clearly, the growing crisis must be addressed and sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately, the citizens of St. Paul have been kept largely in the dark about the strategies the City intends to deploy to battle this crisis.
That is, unless you live on streets like Mt. Curve or Montana Avenue in St. Paul.
If you live there you recently learned that the City strategy is to clear-cut your boulevards.
And, leaving in the place of where trees once stood nothing but stumps.
Worse yet because the City Council rejected a request by Mayor Chris Coleman to add $900,000 to the City budget to mitigate this clear-cut approach — residents in those neighborhoods, and throughout the City, will see stumps for years to come.
Before anyone accuses me of denying science let me be clear about this: We have an environmental crisis. It requires us to fight this crisis with science.
It also requires us to fight it with commonsense.
Which, unfortunately, appears to be lacking in this effort.
Those who remember St. Paul’s lush canopies of Elm Trees will also remember the bombed-out features of the City when they were removed.
Those days are returning.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way.
We should have learned our lessons.
I am not an expert in Emerald Ash Borer or treatment options. I do know that there are some.
I also know that one of the options does, unfortunately, include the wholesale removal of trees throughout our City.
But those options do not preclude us from immediately removing stumps and replacing lost trees with a variety of other trees to prevent future devastation in our neighborhoods.
Yes, it will cost money. But, here is an idea.
Stop spending money on any new projects that have been put into the budget the past two years.
Stop any additional expenditure of funds on non-essential City services.
Focus those dollars, instead, on battling this disease that will not only severely impact our environment but have a devastating impact on the property values of St. Paul residents.
This is a crisis. A crisis requires a response that is more than a City Councilmember saying she is going to do her best to put money into the budget that the Council refused to approve in the first place.
The City Council felt so strongly about global climate change that they passed resolutions expressing their concerns about its impact on our world.
Yet, when it comes to the trees in their own neighborhoods they cannot be bothered to pay attention.
Here’s your chance to make a difference:
- Contact your City Councilmember and tell them to S.T.O.P. – “Saving Trees is Our Priority”
- Tie a Red Ribbon around trees in your yard as a message to S.T.O.P. and that we need a better way
- A better way includes immediate stump removal and tree replacement for those trees that need to be removed
- Post on Facebook and Social Media your concerns and ask your friends and neighbors to follow your lead.
This is where you, as a St. Paul Citizen, can make a difference NOW but only if you stand up and say S.T.O.P.
Don’t wait until you wake up in the morning and find your trees gone. Your property values diminished. And the environmental crisis raging outside your door becomes someone else’s problem in the future.