June storm tree damage called worse than 2011 tornado

A member of the Minneapolis Tree Advisory Commission told members of the City Council today that last month's storm caused more tree damage than the May 2011 tornado.

Commission member Peggy Booth didn't have an overall estimate of tree damage from the June 21 storm.

The city removed more than 2,500 trees from public property after the North Minneapolis tornado.

Booth says damaged trees still pose a danger to people and property. She showed members of the city council a section of a tree limb which recently fell near her home.

"I would urge everyone to just look up before they park a car and make sure there aren't any of these 'widow makers,' Booth said. "And make sure they aren't putting themselves or their property in danger."

Booth said forestry crews are working around the clock to remove tree debris. It's not clear when the clean-up will end.

Members of the Minneapolis City Council also said they want to look into how sidewalk construction contributed to the downing of some boulevard trees.

A council member asked city forester Ralph Sievert if there was a way to avoid cutting into the root systems of boulevard trees during sidewalk construction. Sievert said the city is exploring alternatives.

"There's been some changes made in terms of arcing the sidewalk around the tree, so you don't have as much of that impact. Even just shaving the roots off, instead of severing them, that all still has an impact on the stability of the tree," Sievert said. He added there could be some improvement in the way sidewalks are constructed near boulevard tree root systems.

Sievert said the biggest challenge to the city's tree canopy is the spread of emerald ash borer. The commission recommended the city remove 5,000 ash trees this year to halt the spread of the pest.

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