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  • The Kenyon Leader

    City of Wanamingo aims to get ahead of emerald ash borer issue

    By By ANDREW DEZIEL News Writer,


    With the telltale signs of emerald ash borer invasion beginning to appear, the city of Wanamingo has updated a tree ordinance originally put in place some 30 years ago to get a handle on Dutch Elm Disease by requiring the removal of diseased trees.

    First discovered in Minnesota some 15 years ago, the emerald ash borer appears to have spread dramatically after a record warm winter which failed to kill off a variety of pests. Across the state, many counties and cities have recorded their first outbreaks of the insects.

    Alongside 52 of Minnesota’s 87 counties, which happen to include the overwhelming majority of population centers, all of Goodhue County has been placed in the Emerald Ash Borer Quarantine Zone by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

    In order to stop the spread, the department’s quarantine is attempting to limit the movement of firewood and other ash material in and out of infected areas. Summer is a particularly critical time, as the warm weather ensures that it’s when the bugs typically spread.

    Under the new ordinance, property owners would have a month to remove ash trees identified as diseased. The city is also updating its ordinance by adding a variety of trees to the permissible list and removing others, with an eye to what other nearby cities have done.

    Signs of emerald ash borer already appear present on trees throughout town. Councilor Stewart Ohr said that just taking a quick drive around town, he’s seen dozens of trees with the telltale ash borer holes that mark the tree’s imminent demise.

    City Administrator Michael Boulton said the updated ordinance will lay the groundwork for an aggressive response next year, when pest infestations are likely to have become much more advanced and fully killed off many of the infected trees.

    “Come next year when no leaves are on the tree and the bark is falling off, that’s probably when it needs to be pushed,” Boulton said. “This spring when you see trees half alive, I don’t think anybody’s intentions are to push people to take them down now.”

    In other business, the Council began consideration of whether or not to renew its contract for police services with Goodhue County, now that the County Board of Commissioners has indicated its intention to significantly increase the price of policing contracts.

    To the County Board, the change is needed to bring its compensation for policing contracts more in line with their cost. The discussion was triggered by challenges in hiring for law enforcement, as well as the City of Goodhue’s difficulties after its police department disbanded.

    Because Wanamingo residents also pay county taxes and law enforcement coverage in nearby rural areas is strengthened by a police presence Wanamingo, Boulton and other small town administrators have argued that the city shouldn’t have to pay full price for policing contracts.

    Should the city wish to continue its law enforcement contract with Goodhue County, Boulton warned that the roughly $64,000 price hike would add several hundred dollars to property taxes on an average Wanamingo home, even as services become more limited.

    “I don’t know what you do in your own personal household when you’re buying less and paying more,” Boulton said. “Those are things to think about, what your priorities are.”

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