Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - The city of Rochester is gearing up for its battle against the Emerald Ash Borer and it may begin this year.

The city Parks Department Wednesday presented a strategic plan to the City Council and offered recommendations to deal with what is expected to be a devastating infestation that will kill thousands of ash trees. There are an estimated 12,400 ash trees in the city. Nearly half are located on boulevards and other city property.

The department’s study includes four scenarios and two are favored by staff because of the lower cost and the higher number of trees that would be saved. The estimated costs of the scenarios are between $4 ½ and $5 million over a 20 year period. Both rely heavily on pesticide treatments and the gradual removal of diseased trees.

The benefit of the two plans is that the treatment, removal and replacement costs would be spread over 20 years rather than a spike in the earlier years of the infestation. The department would mainly concentrate on the nearly 1200 ash trees located in boulevards around the city.

The Council was told efforts will be made to inform the public about the problem. The department also plans to encourage citizens to work with contractors in an effort to save trees located on private property.  

The Council is expected to make a decision on one of the recommendations in the near future.  It will also consider a request to increase the department’s forestry staff and budget to deal with the infestation.