Green Notes June: Managing ash trees from the threat of emerald ash borer

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green notes

Deciding how to manage ash trees from the threat of emerald ash borer

New resources available to understand options for ash trees

Decision guide for managing ash trees

Emerald ash borer, an invasive tree pest that attacks and kills ash trees, is the biggest current threat to our tree canopy. There are over 1 million ash trees in Hennepin County, and 100 percent of them are threatened by the emerald ash borer. Most residents live within 15 miles of an infested ash tree, which means you should be taking steps now to determine if you have ash trees on your property and how you are going to manage them.

Our new decision guide for managing ash trees (PDF) outlines the following steps to help you determine if you have ash trees and decide how you are going to manage them:

  • Identify and inventory ash trees
  • Determine if your ash trees are worth saving
  • Work with a certified arborist to treat trees that are worth saving
  • Monitor and make a plan for removal and replanting of trees that aren’t being treated

Additional helpful resources available include a video on identifying ash trees and graphic showing how emerald ash borer has spread throughout the county.

Learn more about emerald ash borer, how to identify ash trees, signs of emerald ash borer infestation, and tips for hiring a certified arborist at

Become a Master Water Steward

Are you concerned about clean water and interested in protecting a lake or stream you care about? Consider becoming a Master Water Steward! The application period is now open for the 2019 - 2020 training year.

Master Water Stewards adopt-a-drain

Learn more at an upcoming information session:

Applications are due September 13. Learn more and apply

For more information about the Hennepin County Master Water Steward cohort, contact Christina Schmitt at

In the News

Students complete prairie restoration at Scenic Heights Elementary

The school community at Scenic Heights Elementary in Minnetonka has been involved in restoring the school forest on the grounds for the past 15 years. The latest project in June involved nearly 500 students and teachers working alongside staff from Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District and Three Rivers Park District to plant more than 1,500 prairie flowers and grasses for the native prairie, oak savanna and forest edge habitat. The project was funded in part by a Hennepin County Natural Resources Grant. Learn more in the Sun Sailor.

Rain barrels help you care for your garden and the environment

Rain barrels

Rain barrels capture water running off your roof and store it to use later in your garden, reducing the amount of water flowing into our storm sewers and helping you conserve water during drier times. This is a win for the environment and your garden. Rainwater capture and water reuse have become an increasingly important way to manage our water resources, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Cisterns at HERC

Rain barrels can be purchased at home and garden stores or you can make your own. There are also examples of larger rainwater capture systems throughout Minneapolis, including the cisterns at Target Field Station that capture rainwater that is reused inside the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center, preventing runoff from flowing into the Mississippi River. Learn more in the Southwest Journal.


Get tips to fight food waste at the farmers market every Tuesday in July


Food is being wasted at an alarming rate – 40% of all food in America is wasted. And consumers are the largest source of it, more than grocery stores and restaurants combined. But there's good news: we can do something about it. Let’s save the food!

Every Tuesday in July, visit Hennepin County Environment and Energy staff at the farmers market at the Hennepin County Government Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. We will have a kitchen display where you can learn how to store foods to make them last and other tips to fight food waste.

Some storage tips include:

  • Berries: Store berries in an airtight container unwashed in either the fridge or refrigerator.
  • Melon: Store melon in a cool, dry place out of the sun. Once ripe, store melons in the fridge. Cubed melon can be frozen in an airtight container for smoothies.
  • Milk: Keep milk in the main part of the fridge, not in the door. The door is often warmer than other parts of the fridge.
  • Corn: Put corn in the fridge with husks on or freeze it with the kernels cut from the cob.

Check out the food storage guide from Eureka Recycling and Save the Food  to learn more tips for fighting food waste.

Follow the Adventures of Recyclo at Hennepin County libraries

Recyclo display

Our educational display aimed at promoting literacy and recycling is once again rotating through various Hennepin County libraries this summer and fall. The display follows the story of Recyclo, a superhero who teaches youth about the power of recycling all while fending off villains like the evil Lord Waste-A-Ton and Garbage Giant.

The display teaches youth that there is value in recycling. The glass, paper, metal, and plastics that you put in the recycling bin can be transformed into new products to be used again and again. The display has interactive elements for both pre-readers and learners in upper elementary grades, and kids can pick up their own copy of the Recyclo activity book (PDF).

The display will be located at the following libraries:

For more information, contact Christina Schmitt at or 612-596-7740.

Learn about the organics recycling cycle and get a free starter kit at upcoming farmers markets

Organics recycling starter kit giveaway

More than one-third of our trash is organic materials such as food, paper towels, and napkins that could be composted. In July and August, we’ll be visiting farmers markets in cities that recently started offering organics recycling drop-off programs to help residents learn how organics recycling works. We’ll have free starter kits available to the first 50 households who sign up for the organics recycling drop-off.

Find us at the following farmers markets:

Green Tip: Take steps to protect pollinators

Bees being rescued at the Government Center

As a fitting start to National Pollinator Week in June, Misty Hoffman, an interior designer for Hennepin County and amateur bee keeper, relocated a swarm of honeybees that were starting to become a danger on the south plaza of the Hennepin County Government Center. Hoffman carefully worked to capture the queen bee in a hive box to ensure the rest of the hive would follow. The bees are now residing safely in an apiary in Wisconsin. Read about the rescue in the Star Tribune.

Bees and other pollinators are a cornerstone of healthy ecosystems and our food supply. Approximately one-third of the food we eat is directly or indirectly derived from honey bee pollination, according to the American Beekeeping Association. Bees and other pollinators are in serious decline from habitat loss and pesticide use in landscaping and agriculture.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources suggests the following steps for protecting pollinators.

Steps to protect pollinators

Some resources to help you take action:

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