Dutch Elm Disease increases

Dutch Elm Disease is up in Minneapolis, and the reason remains a mystery.

"That is the million-dollar question," said Ralph Sievert, director of forestry for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

One guess blames the weather, he said. A dry fall, limited snow cover and a cold winter stressed the trees and made them more susceptible to the Dutch Elm beetle. Another possibility is someone has a pile of elm wood someplace that no one has identified, and it is breeding more beetles.

As of June 30, the Park Board had removed 743 diseased trees this year, up from 642 during the same time period in 2002, 343 in 2001 and 289 in 2000, according to Park Board data.

The Park Board spends roughly $3.5 million a year on Dutch Elm Disease tree removal, Sievert said. Other cities are experiencing higher rates of Dutch Elm disease.

The city has approximately 72,500 elms on public and private land, down from 212,400 in 1963.

In another tree-loss item, a June 24 microburst of wind in Southwest knocked down 300-plus trees, and will cost $300,000 to $500,000 to clean up, Sievert said

The affected area was west of Lyndale Avenue and south of West 54th Street, he said. The city Public Works Department and Park Board crews are working on the cleanup effort.