Seven Options for Replacing your Ash Trees

Adapted from: Matthew Russell is a Minnesota Extension specialist in forest resources.

Emerald ash borer (EAB) has left a wake of dead ash trees throughout 4.3 million acres across the state. Minnesota forests are home to three native ash species. Unfortunately, all of these ash trees are susceptible to EAB. Here are seven native tree species that you can research for replacing your ash. Each species has its own unique characteristics and are adapted to different environmental conditions.

American Elm (disease-resistant elm varieties) Like ash, elms can tolerate wet conditions. Elms are slightly different in that they require full sun for the best growth.

Quaking Aspen Aspen sprouts vigorously, a form of reproduction without using seeds. It is often one of the first species to come back to an area after a timber harvest or fire.

Northern White Cedar In its natural habitat, it can form dense stands and survives well in moist soils. Northern white cedar trees will attract wildlife. Cedar trees are a favorite of white-tailed deer.

Swamp Oak This species can tolerate heavy and wet soil, which makes it a good replacement for black ash. While native only to southeastern Minnesota, swamp white oak is known as a climate change "winner" and has been planted with success in research trials in northern Minnesota.

Hackberry It can survive heat and drought or wind and ice, making it suitable for Minnesota's climate. In its native habitat it can be found in floodplains and along rivers in the central and southern portions of the state.

Silver and Red Maple are common in southern Minnesota and grow into the north-central part of the state, typically along rivers. These maples are widely planted as a shade or ornamental trees. Silver maples leaves are are green on top and "silvery" on bottom and red maple leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall, giving the trees their names.

River Birch can thrive in floodplains and near stream banks. River birch can be a single or multi-stemmed tree, making it a great tree to consider for the landscape around your home. Its copper-colored bark makes it stand out from other common trees.

Diversifying the types of species you plant in your yard or woodland gives you reassurance that your landscape can survive future insect and disease outbreaks. For more options, Extension's replacement trees for ash page can help you figure out which trees will grow well in your plant community. Consult an arborist or forester for more advice to make sure you plant the right trees in the right spot.
For more information contact Becky Wozney, Wetland Specialist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Staying Active in the Winter

"What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?" wrote John Steinbeck. We know that Minnesota winters ban be frigid, making people more likely to stay indoors. Many residents are unaware of all the great activities are out there to keep you from becoming stagnant in the winter months and able to stay healthy and happy. Sometimes winter activities are even more exciting and offer experiences that you don't get during other seasons. Cold-weather camping is a great way to savor those special moments but many folks, even experienced campers, think the idea sounds crazy. Click here to learn more about the basics of winter camping from the Sierra Club.

To help Minnesotans plan winter visits to state parks, and other recreational areas, the Minnesota DNR shares its top tips to have fun this winter, along with other resources for planning a winter adventure. "We know Minnesotans love being outdoors, and winter offers a whole new way to play outside," said Ann Pierce, the DNR's Parks and Trails Division director. "However, we also know cost and information can be barriers for Minnesotans to get outdoors and enjoy nature. We're working to alleviate this for folks by providing no cost or low-cost activities and providing easy trip planning resources."

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Pollinators and Partnerships

 ACD strives to build resilient pollinator corridors throughout Anoka County. This goal is accomplished by protecting and enhancing existing habitat and creating new habitat. ACD is fortunate to have local partners who also share this vision and are helping identify unused turf areas that can be converted to native plantings. ACD is currently working with the Cities of Fridley and Blaine to convert turf into prairie plantings in public green spaces. Half an acre of turf is being converted in Fridley's Commons Park and 0.3 acres of turf to prairie at Blaine's Laddie Lake Park. Staff from both cities prepared the sites and mowed the sites to prevent weeds from seeding. ACD staff seeded the sites in the spring. Members of the Cities and multiple volunteer groups planted native grasses and wildflowers to add to the seed mix.

These projects are funded by BWSR's Habitat Enhancement Landscape Pilot (HELP) grant. Other ACD HELP turf to pollinator projects are at Coon Lake County Park, Bunker Hills Regional Park and Ramsey River's Bend Park. The BWSR HELP grant also provides funds to enhance native prairies at the Cedar Creek Conservation Area, Bunker Hills Regional Park, Rum River Central Regional Park, Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Park Reserve and Mississippi West Regional Park.

One way to help these projects is to donate your native prairie seeds, including milkweed seed. See ACD's previous post about milkweed seed collection. Watch this short video to see butterfly milkweed seed cleaning

For more information contact Carrie Taylor, Restoration Ecologist, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Native Plantings: Worth The Effort

Native wildflowers, grasses, sedges, and shrubs provide numerous benefits to wildlife habitat, soil health, and water quality. They are also generally more resilient to fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, and foraging by wildlife than non-native species. However, native plantings can still be impacted by disturbances such as weather or the growth of invasive and weedy species. For these reasons and especially if a specific landscaped look is desired, maintenance is still required to help native plantings thrive and look their best.

Plants are most susceptible to die-off within the first 3-5 years of being planted. During this initial period, it is essential to frequently weed, water, and re-plant in areas where losses occur. Once established, native vegetation requires less maintenance but should still be regularly inspected for weeds and pruned or thinned as needed to ensure there is adequate sunlight available for all species. Large-scale restorations such as the conversion of former agricultural fields to prairie may require regular management through prescribed burns, grazing, or mowing to mimic cycles of natural disturbance and new growth. 

The most common barriers to achieving success in establishing native plants is failing to water  and remove weeds. These two actions make a big difference in the appearance and function of native landscaping features, as shown in these two photos – one of which is regularly weeded and watered (above left) and the other which has received less maintenance (above right). 

You can take several steps to make native landscape maintenance easier. First, make sure the species you plant are well-suited to the soil and sunlight conditions on your property. Plant into erosion control fabric or mulch to help reduce weed growth. Learn to identify the native species you choose and plant them in clusters to make it easier to spot weeds that pop up. Water native plantings, especially during times of drought. Weekly maintenance, especially during the critical establishment period, strongly increases the likelihood of success and prevents these tasks from becoming overwhelming. If weeds have taken over or you've noticed die-off in your native landscapes, it isn't too late! Use the following resources to help guide your native landscape rehabilitation endeavors.


For more information contact Breanna Keith, Water Resource Technician, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
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Rare Plant Rescue: Black Huckleberry

The Rare Plant Rescue team coordinates with the MNDNR and local developers to salvage rare plants before construction begins. The most recent salvage was focused on the State Threatened species Black Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata) which was listed as a threatened species in 2013. After locating the plants, the top layer of leaves and sandy soil were carefully brushed away to expose the root systems. Staff dug by hand through the sandy soil, following the woody rhizome until it was connected to another black huckleberry plant. Whole sections of black huckleberry were unearthed, placed in water and transported to the MN Landscape Arboretum (MLA). Staff and volunteers potted the plants so they can grow in a controlled setting at the MLA throughout the summer. MLA staff also took stem and root cuttings to experiment with different propagation methods.

Plants that survive the salvage will be transplanted into a protected site in the fall. The study includes documenting the habitat type of the salvaged site, propagation methods, and rare plants previously planted at protected sites are monitored annually. Approximately 80 Black Huckleberry plants were transplanted during this recent rescue in Ham Lake.

For more information on the Rare Plant Rescue program contact Carrie Taylor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 763.434.2030 x130 

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Rescuing Rubus fulleri – State Threatened Species

The Anoka Sand Plain Rescue team salvaged rubus fulleri just days after the snow melted and the take permit was issued. A recent development was designed to avoid impacts to natural/uncropped wetlands and leave a natural area that contains most of the rare plants on the site. However, a subpopulation of rubus fulleri was to be impacted since there was no feasible way to avoid the areas due to construction constraints. 


Staff from ACD, Critical Connections Ecological Services and the MN Landscape Arboretum salvaged whole plants and cut stems/canes. Plants were taken to the MN Landscape Arboretum where they will be potted. Stems/canes were cut into pieces ensuring each piece included a bud and was potted. The Arboretum is experimenting with different propagation techniques and will keep the rubus  on-site until the fall. At that time, plants will be transferred to ecologically appropriate protected site where they can be monitored for survival and growth.  

Root tipping – yellow circles show rooting at the base and the tip

Rubus fulleri was designated as a state-threatened species in 2013. In Minnesota, this species is restricted to the shallow wet meadows of the Anoka Sand Plain. Following a century of agricultural and residential development in this region, few high quality examples of R. fulleri habitat are known in the state. Rubus fulleri is most threatened by habitat loss, with populations becoming more isolated and fragmented. Active management, including prescribed fire and invasive species control is needed to maintain a viable R. fulleri population.

Rubus Anatomy:

Cane: a biennial, woody shoot which grows out of the perennial crowns and roots

Primocane: first year cane, mainly comprised of vegetation growth

Floricane: the same cane in the second year, bearing the flowers and fruits, then dies back


Rubus fulleri traits include canes that arch and trail along the ground. They also root tip, meaning the tip of the trailing cane grows roots into the ground. 

For more information contact Carrie Taylor at 763.434.2030 ext.190 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Best Native Trees for our Changing Climate

Climate change has many impacts on the natural environment and there are many ways we can help reduce climate change. There is yet another way to help with the impacts of climate change. Planting a diversity of trees that are predicted to thrive in a changing climate will help the landscape adapt and become more resilient.

Minnesota's climate is changing. Average temperatures have increased 1 - 3 ◦F statewide with the greatest temperature increases in the winter. Total precipitation has increased with more intense rainfalls. Despite the increase in total precipitation, there have been more days between precipitation events, which increases the potential for drought. The US National Climate Assessment predicts that these trends will continue in Minnesota. By the end of the century, Minnesota will likely have the summer climate of Nebraska and Kansas (Figure 1). Plant communities and habitat types will change along with the changing climate. Most tree species northward range are predicted to shift about 300 miles by the end of the century (McKenney et al. 2007). The change in tree cover alters the understory and the habitat for wildlife. One way to help the landscape adapt and become more resilient is to plant a diversity of trees and include species from more southern areas.

US Forest Service climate change models predict these trees are likely to thrive in a changing climate in the Metro region:

Tree Species

Habitat

American elm *

Average – Moist soil, floodplains, deciduous forest, swamps

Basswood

Deciduous forests, woodland edges

Black Oak

Savanna

Black Walnut

Mixed forest, Savannas, banks

Bur Oak

Forest to open prairie

Cottonwood

Lowland forests along along lakes and streams, floodplains

Hackberry

Average – Moist soil, Hardwood forest, floodplains, river bank

Shagbark hickory

Upland dry forest

Silver maple

Floodplain forest, riverbanks

White Oak

Upland dry forest

* disease resistant needed


Consider the habitat, moisture, soil, and sun conditions when selecting trees for your property.

https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/treecare/best-native-yard-trees.html


McKenney DW Pedlar JH Lawrence K Campbell K Hutchinson MF. 2007. Potential impacts of climate change on the distribution of North American trees. BioScience 57:939-948.

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