The city of Minneapolis begins its effort to identify, remove and replace nearly 40,000 ash trees Monday.
Over the next eight years, the city will cut down and replace the trees with a variety of different tree species in a preemptive fight against the emerald ash borer, an invasive species.
• Previously: Minn. reports success against emerald ash borers
Ralph Sievert, the city's forestry director, said the park board can use its resources most effectively if it acts now.
"Doing nothing would be a really bad option. We have gotten the comment, 'Why don't you just wait until my tree dies?' And if we wait til your tree dies there could be so many, there could be thousands and thousands of standing dead trees that we could never get to quick enough."
The trees will come down to avoid infestations, Sievert said.
"Even a healthy-appearing Ash tree can have emerald ash borer in it, and if it doesn't, it's just a matter of time before it does," he said.
The city is also changing its tree planting approach. Instead of planting a city block with one species they'll diversify the selection. That's designed to reduce the future need for wide spread tree removal like this.
As the city begins planting new trees, residents are encouraged to help water boulevard trees, especially in the coming months if conditions get drier.
The $1.2 million for the project comes from a city levy which passed last year. The levy will need to be renewed by voters for the next eight years.