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 extension.umn.edu/pesticides/2011/eab.
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, lwvmpls.org/air_quality_forum.html.
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 email@example.com.