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Study targets protecting city forest from EAB

A research project offers the city the opportunity to mitigate problems that could stem from the discovery of emerald ash borer in the city two years ago.

The Superior City Council approved a research project presented by the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve to preserve the city’s Municipal Forest.

The third largest urban forest in the nation is rife with black ash and susceptible to the deadly effects of the invasive beetle first discovered in the United States in 2002 in Michigan.

The emerald ash borer has killed millions of ash trees from the East Coast to the Midwest.

The Lake Superior NERR was approached by Nicolas Bolton, a doctoral student at Michigan Technical University of Houghton, Mich., for partnerships and funding for a research project concerning emerald ash borer, said Erika Washburn of the Lake Superior NERR. She said he was particularly interested in the Superior Municipal Forest.

"Something that is super important to me is forest health," Bolton said. "… We have a lot of black ash in that forest, which is susceptible to emerald ash borer."

He said while the beetle has been found in Superior, right now it hasn’t affected the forest.

The project, funded by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, would under-plant three different, native species suitable to the forest to boost the resistance and resiliency of the forest.

"We’re trying to replace ash trees, so two of (the species) would be hardwoods and one would be a softwood," Bolton said. "We’re leaning toward white cedar or tamarack."

Volunteers will begin planting seedlings in September, and the seedlings will be measured in terms of viability, height and diameter each spring and fall through May of 2017. The finding of the study will be reported during a regional workshop in 2017.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is funding the $8,600 project.