Green digest

Learn to spot emerald ash borer — and other pests on the way

Want to join the front lines 
in the fight against the emerald ash borer?

There are six opportunities in February and March to attend a Minnesota Forest Pest First Detectors training program, where workshop attendees learn to identify emerald ash borer and other invasive pests threatening Minnesota’s forests. None were scheduled to take place in Minneapolis, but interested Southwest residents could register online for the Feb. 22 session in St. Paul or make the 35-minute drive to Andover on March 8, the next-closest workshop.

“Emerald ash borer is here to stay, and we really want to track it as it moves,” said Dean Herzfeld of University of Minnesota Extension Service, which is co-sponsoring the events with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Military parlance includes the phrase “boots on the ground.” Think of this as an eyes-on-the-trees strategy to slowing the spread of the Asian beetle responsible for killing tens of millions of ash trees in 15 states and two Canadian provinces.

“The sooner we can find a new infestation, the better,” Herzfeld said.

Since the first infestation was discovered near Detroit in 2002, the emerald ash borer has spread as far south as Tennessee, out east to New York and Quebec and, as of 2009, west to Minnesota. Arborists located the first Minneapolis infestation in the Prospect Park neighborhood just a year ago.

That put emerald ash borer on Southwest’s doorstep. While new infestations are often blamed on the careless transportation of infested firewood, the adult borers can fly up to two miles a year on their own.

Adults are metallic green and just smaller in size than a penny. They feed — relatively harmlessly — on ash leaves. Emerald ash borer larvae cause the real damage when they burrow beneath the bark of mature trees.

About one in every five trees in Minneapolis is an ash, according to city estimates.

In addition to emerald ash borer, workshop attendees will learn about other invasive plant and animal species, such as gypsy moths, oriental bittersweet and thousand cankers disease, the latter a potential threat to walnut trees in the Twin Cities and southern areas of the state.

“Some of these are going to be pretty nasty, too, and some will turn out to be not too terribly bad,” Herzfeld said.

For more information, or to complete the forms required for pre-registration, go to


County opts for 
energy-efficient lighting

The halls of the Hennepin County Government Center are glowing a little greener these days.

Not literally, but the 29-story high-rise office tower does have new, energy-efficient lamps and light bulbs installed in its offices and public spaces. The Retrofit Companies completed the job of swapping out 21,658 less-efficient bulbs for their energy-sipping replacements in about six weeks, the county reported in January.

The county dedicated more than $1 million in federal economic recovery funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to improve lighting efficiency in several county buildings. Xcel Energy also offered the county a $1 rebate for each new lamp installed, the county reported.

In 2008 and 2009, Hennepin County replaced less-efficient bulbs in the Downtown Central Library and then the library’s parking ramp. The county later reported saving thousands on energy costs.

After retrofitting the government center, the county projected it would save about 475,000 kilowatt-hours of energy each year, or about $55,000 on its annual electricity bill for the building.


Understanding air quality in Minneapolis

STEVENS SQUARE — How do pollutants in the air we breathe impact our health? And what can be done to improve Minneapolis’ air quality, both indoors and out?

The League of Women Voters Minneapolis invited local scientists, environmental activists, political leaders and health professionals to address those questions at a free public forum 7 p.m.–9 p.m. Feb. 24 at Plymouth Congregational Church, 1900 Nicollet Ave. S.

Speakers will discuss how common pollutants impact air quality in Minneapolis and the health of city residents, how those pollutants are tracked and what is being done to improve air quality in the city and state. The forum was organized in cooperation with Plymouth’s Caring for Creation working group.

Find a full line-up of forum participants at the league’s website,

Informational exhibits hosted by sponsoring organizations will be on view a half-hour before and a half-hour after the forum.

Reach Dylan Thomas at

Green digest

Sign-up open for spring rain garden workshops

The schedule for Metro Blooms spring 2011 rain garden workshops went up on its website,, in January.

The non-profit organization promotes the installation of rain gardens to beautify neighborhoods and help protect the environment. The native plant gardens slow the flow of storm water into local watersheds, preventing stream bank erosion and helping to capture pollutants that otherwise would flow into local waterways and wildlife habitat.

The two-part workshops cost $10 per session. Attendees learn the basics of designing and installing a rain garden in Part A, and then return for Part B to work with a landscape designer and master gardener on a project that fits the specific needs of their property.

Those interested should sign up soon. Workshops tend to fill fast, particularly in Minneapolis.


Lyndale awarded stormwater management grant

LYNDALE — A $50,000 grant from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization will partially fund installation of a new storm water management system at the Lyndale Neighborhood Building, 3537 Nicollet Ave. S.

The Lyndale Neighborhood Association (LNA) planned to install a rain garden and make other improvements to more effectively capture rainwater runoff on the site. Runoff seeps into the basement during storms, making the basement nearly unusable.

“We’ve had some really significant water issues with the building,” LNA Executive Director Mark Hinds said. “We’re going to use this as an opportunity to show people how you can take these old neighborhood office buildings and use sustainable practices to manage water on site.”

Hinds said the neighborhood planned to use the project as an educational tool, creating a community space where students, residents and area businesses could learn about effective storm water management.

Hinds estimated total project costs at about $80,000 to $90,000. LNA was lining up additional funding sources and seeking donations to cover the remaining cost, he added.

Despite the expense, Hinds said that the project would be worth it because the building is one of the neighborhood’s “biggest assets.”

The project was likely to start sometime in the spring or summer. The building will remain open during construction.

LNA also was looking for volunteers to help with construction of the project.

“Residents will be critical to this project,” Hinds said.


Volunteers sought for Minnehaha Creek Watershed District board

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners was seeking volunteers to help oversee operations in the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.

Two seats on the district’s Board of Managers come open in March, when the terms for Pamela Blixt of Minneapolis and Richard Miller of Edina expire. Managers serve three-year terms and are appointed by
the County Board.

Established in 1967, the watershed district covers 181 square miles of land that drains into Minnehaha Creek, including portions of 27 cities and two townships. The watershed district coordinates local government efforts to promote water quality and protect resources within the district.

Board of Managers meetings are 6:45 p.m. on the second
and fourth Thursday of each month at Minnetonka City Hall. Work sessions are the third Thursday of each month at watershed district headquarters in Deephaven.

Those interested in a Board of Managers position must apply by Feb. 28. The County Board will interview applicants during its March 1 meeting.

More information on the positions can be found at


LHENA hosting green seminar

THE WEDGE — The Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association (LHENA) hosts a workshop on recycling, composting and waste-reduction 6:30 p.m.–
8:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at Jefferson Community School, 1200 W. 26th St.

A part of its Green Seminar Series, the LHENA event was scheduled to feature Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling Director Susan Young. Young will talk about strategies to reduce waste and boost recycling rates, as well as how a composting program could benefit community gardens in The Wedge.

The Green Seminar Series continues through the spring with talks on solar ovens in March, rain gardens in April and raising urban chickens in May. Go to the LHENA website,, or call 377-5023 for more information.


Fewer stops on the Midtown Greenway

Southwest residents who commute or ride for recreation on the Midtown Greenway can count on one less stop as they ride east on that non-motorized transportation corridor.

The Midtown Greenway Coalition announced in January that a stop sign was removed from the Greenway were it intersects with Fifth Avenue, just a few blocks across the border from Southwest. Now, vehicle traffic on Fifth Avenue will have to stop at the intersection, but bicycle and pedestrian traffic can keep flowing on the Greenway — much as it already did, although legally, now.

The coalition, a non-profit organization that works to protect and promote the Greenway, reported the stop sign move came after negotiations with the city.