Standing on a Dean Parkway stump near Lake Calhoun, mayoral candidate Mark Andrew proposed a plan to spend as much as $500,000 in city funds to plant 5,000 extra trees in Minneapolis.
Minneapolis has recently lost about 6,000 trees because of two big storms: the 2011 North Side tornado and the 2013 Solstice storm. With the Emerald Ash Borer making an appearance in Minneapolis, Andrew said now is the time to get serious about the urban tree canopy.
“We are losing trees in our city faster than we can plant them because of budget constraints,” Andrew said. “So I carry a lifelong commitment to our urban forest to this moment today as a candidate for mayor with a proposal to double our planting and replanting of trees in the city of Minneapolis in cooperation with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.”
The Park Board is responsible for boulevard trees in Minneapolis. In recent years it has planted 5,000 trees annually. Andrew’s plan would double that to 10,000 trees.
Andrew was flanked by Park Board commissioners Anita Tabb (District 4), Jon Olson (District 2) and Scott Vreeland (District 3).
Vreeland said the Park Board expects to lose 30,000 boulevard trees to the Emerald Ash Borer and will need to remove 5,000 Ash trees annually.
“It’s a massive thing that’s more than the Park Board can do,” Vreeland said.
Andrew said funding would likely come from the general fund, but said he couldn’t say specifically where the dollars would come from until he got into the mayor’s office.
Andrew said he would work to leverage the $500,000 and get matching money from businesses and philanthropists.
The current Park Board has increased tree plantings over the years. In 2003, the Park Board planted only 2,500 trees, but has ramped up planting because of the looming Emerald Ash Borer and the North Side tornado.