Six trees along the south Rice County Government Services Building parking lot were marked with orange ties before they were felled because they were infested with emerald ash borer. (Photo courtesy of Rice County)

Six spindly ash trees along the south Rice County Government Services parking lot have come down. The trees are victims of the tree-killing invasive species, emerald ash borer.

Parks & Facilities Director Matthew Verdick first noticed signs of the nefarious bug — holes in the trees, bark coming off the trunk and no new growth — a few weeks ago and called the city of Faribault’s arborist for his opinion. The arborist concurred that the trees, like many others in the city, were infested.

The beetle, which takes its name from its bright green body and love of ash trees, was first discovered in Faribault a little over two years ago by a Faribault Public Works employee. The worker was on their way home after a Department of Agriculture meeting in Medford about the beetle being found in Steele County.

According to the Department of Agriculture, “Emerald ash borer larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark and feeding on the part of the tree that moves nutrients up and down the trunk.”

The insect was first discovered in Minnesota in 2009. It’s now found in 35 of Minnesota’s 87 counties.

Claire LaCanne, Rice and Steele ag extension educator, says that once a tree is infested it often dies within four years.

“The general recommendation is that if more than 50% of the canopy has died, then it is too late to save the tree,” she wrote in a recent column.

Rice County’s ash trees will quickly be replaced with a variety of trees, which helps avoid a disease or invasive species wiping out a great number of trees in an area at once.

Two other trees are also being taken down and will be replaced. One is a dead tree near the corner of Fourth Avenue and Fourth Street NW. The other is by the building’s north door. It was planted too close to the sidewalk and is causing the concrete to heave.

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