A half-million-dollar grant is coming to the Anoka County County Parks Department to help cover costs of removing ash trees infested with the emerald ash borer.

The County Board on Tuesday accepted a Shade Tree Program Bonding Grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

"This is a huge opportunity for the county to ensure forest health across our very vast park system, which is heavily forested," said Anoka County Parks Director Jeff Perry, who called the grant a "big win for the county."

The grant will allow an outside contractor to take down about 400 sickened ashes, primarily in the northwestern section of the county, and replace them with a diverse mix of trees.

The work will begin next winter, Perry said.

A previous grant helped fund the removal of more than 1,000 ash trees along park roads, trails and from high-use areas in the southern part of the county where there is a high concentration of infected trees.

The emerald ash borer is an invasive insect that arrived in the United States in the early 2000s from its native Asia. Over the past two decades, the tiny green beetles have been spotted in 30 states, including Minnesota. The wood-boring beetle kills ash trees by eating the tissues under the bark, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.