Tree removal starts up

A green painted "X" will soon mark some of the 30,000 public ash trees as the Park and Recreation Board prepares to remove them from the city.

The eight-year removal effort is part of the Park Board's attempt to stop the emerald ash borer infestation in the city. Its goal is to remove a small percentage of ash trees at a time from city boulevards and parks and replace them with other tree species.

Trees with no signs of the disease will be marked and removed through 2014. Ash trees that are infested with emerald ash borer will be removed as soon as possible, the Park Board said.

Its forestry department anticipates replacing 5,000 ash trees each year for eight years.

"Our goal is to replace approximately two to four ash trees on each block per season," said Ralph Sievert, director of forestry. "Foresters will choose trees for replacement throughout an entire block so that properties are affected as evenly as possible."

Alejandra Matos @amatos12


Flooding postpones Minnehaha Creek cleanup

Dangerously high water has caused an annual cleanup event on Minnehaha Creek and Minneapolis lakes to be postponed until late July.

Next weekend's eighth-annual Minnehaha Creek Watershed District cleanup event is now July 27 because cleanup sites are flooded along the creek and Minneapolis lakes, making it dangerous for volunteers. This year is the wettest Twin Cities spring on record, causing historic high water levels on the creek and several lakes.

Organizers aim to collect 3 tons of trash from the creek and Minneapolis lakes. Volunteers can meet July 27 at the Knollwood SuperTarget in St. Louis Park, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and at Lake Hiawatha. Participants who have RSVP'd are asked to contact Cleanup@minnehahacreek.org if they are not able to attend on July 27.

For more details, go to www.minnehahacreek.org/cleanup.

Kelly Smith @kellystrib

St. Paul

Bridge project in the works

The City Council last week approved a $9.8 million project to replace two aging bridges that support Kellogg Boulevard, the broad street that wraps around downtown's south side high above the Mississippi River. The project is scheduled for next year.

Three bridges will be built, along with new sidewalks, traffic signals, streetlights and trees. The new roadway also will include room for a future 12-foot-wide bike lane.

The bridges, which aren't obvious from the street, were built in the 1930s to extend the boulevard's eastbound lanes at Market and St. Peter streets. They're anchored to the top of the river bluff.

The two aging bridges are considered "structurally deficient." The bluff itself also is deteriorating.

The project will be financed with a combination of federal, state and city funding.

Kevin Duchschere @KDuchschere


Interim overseer named

Former Hennepin County commissioner and administrator Jeff Spartz has been named interim administrator for the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.

Spartz will begin running the district Tuesday and continue for possibly six months while the agency searches for a new administrator.

Former administrator Eric Evenson-Marden was fired by the district board in April after 15 years in the position. He was replaced on an interim basis by David Mandt, the district's director of operations and programs.

BILL MCAULIFFE @billmcauliffe