Briefs: New Cottage Grove program puts price on city's ash trees

  • Updated: March 29, 2014 - 4:19 PM
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Some of the most energetic tree and shrub plantings in east metro in recent years has been done by youth as part of Great River Greening projects.

Photo: JIM GEHRZ • jgehrz@startribune.com,

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In the latest effort to stop the emerald ash borer, Cottage Grove is testing a software program that assesses the value of city-owned ash trees to help officials determine whether to save them or cut them down.

The i-Tree software, which was developed by the U.S. Forest Service, allows parks officials to determine the value of the city’s trees to underscore the importance of funding a program to deal with ash trees and the emerald ash borer, said city forester Steve Bowe.

The council recently cut nearly 40 percent of the management program’s $162,000 annual budget, Bowe said, but has hinted it would restore funding in the near future.

“In order to do that, I needed to give some validity to why our forest is important,” he said. “That was my main drive: to make sure that the management program enlisted four years ago was carried forward.”

Bowe says he has spent the past few months plugging tree data into the software, which “spits out a slew of information” on a tree’s value — based on such factors as its size, condition and location. After crunching the numbers, Bowe determined that “our forest gives the city $1.8 million annually in benefit.”

Armed with this information, he said, the Parks Department will be able to make better decisions about which trees to cut down and best practices in fighting the ash borer, a beetle that attacks trees and lawns.

Marine on St. Croix

Volunteers needed to plant trees at camp

Individuals and service groups are asked to sign up by April 9 to assist with planting trees and shrubs on April 26 and 27, beginning at 10 a.m. at Veterans Campground on Big Marine Lake. Hundreds of trees will be provided by the state Department of Natural Resources as part of an Arbor Day weekend event at the camp.

Veterans Campground is a nonprofit camp that assists veterans and their families with rest, recreation and recovery from military duty. It is situated at 11300 180th St. N., Marine on St. Croix. Contact Lori at 651-492-7277 to sign up.

Oak Park Heights

Road projects begin, new detours appear

Reconstruction of Hwy. 36 and its frontage roads and intersections through Oak Park Heights will begin this week, weather permitting, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said.

• The south frontage road will close to through traffic between Osgood Avenue and Club Tara. Access to businesses and nearby housing will remain available, but most traffic will be detoured, MnDOT said.

• Hwy. 36 will become single-lane in each direction from Washington Avenue/Norell Avenue to Hwy. 95.

• Osgood traffic will use the west side of the road while crews reconstruct the east side of the road north of Hwy. 36.

• Crews will clear trees and shrubs at the Oakgreen Avenue/Greeley Street intersection and on Hwy. 95 north of Hwy. 36. This work starts in early April.

Detailed information about each of these construction activities, including the type of work and anticipated timeline, can be found at www.dot.state.mn.us/stcroixcrossing.

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