Minneapolis has one of the nicest tree canopies in the country, U.S. Forest Service study says

It's easy to forget in February, but green things really do grow here.
It's easy to forget in February, but green things really do grow here.

It's impossible to appreciate this time of year, but if you're sick of winter, here's a comforting thought -- in just a few months, we'll again be enjoying one of America's finest tree canopies!

SEE ALSO: North Siders upset about city of Minneapolis's tree-planting tornado commemoration

According to an American Forests study funded by the U.S. Forest Service, Minneapolis has one of the 10 top treescapes in the country, along with Austin, Charlotte, Denver, Milwaukee, New York City, hated rival Portland, Sacramento, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

According to the USDA's blog, "A panel of leading urban foresters and researchers from academia, municipal organizations, nonprofits and the Forest Service selected the highlighted cities based on a combination of criteria including the volume and health of their green spaces and city efforts to improve them."

Here's what American Forests had to say in praise of Minneapolis in particular:

Named the "Fittest City in America" by the American Fitness Index and one of the "World's Cleanest Cities" by MSN, Minneapolis can now add the credential of having one of the top urban forests. The City of Lakes is home to an abundance of varied parkland -- a park every six blocks -- including those designed for off-road cycling and those for hiking, canoeing and swimming.

Minneapolis' tree canopy of 31 percent is only 6.5 percent shy of its potential canopy of 37.5 percent based on geographic information system (GIS) analysis and modeling. Minneapolis was actually one of the first cities to use the U.S. Forest Service's iTree assessment tool to determine the benefits of its urban forest. Today, it's estimated that the city's urban forest has a structural value of $756 million and also reduces energy use by $216,000 per year. This reduction in energy usage reduces carbon emissions at an estimated value of $16,000.

Unfortunately, reports from just days ago indicate that our beautiful tree canopy is being threatened by Emerald Ash Borer. From KSTP:

Just weeks after hundreds of ash trees infested with the beetle had to be cut down at Fort Snelling, [Emerald Ash Borer] been found at Lexington Parkway at Jessamine Avenue, and Pig's Eye Lake Road in St. Paul. And in Minneapolis, it was also discovered at Lakewood Cemetery.

As a result, some researchers fear an even larger outbreak is coming soon.

Arborist Joel Spies, president of Rainbow Treecare Scientific, said, "Ten percent of the trees here are ash in this specific area." He was gazing over the fence of the cemetery, near the intersection of King's Highway and 38th Street.

Spies was worried.

"It's starting to creep out and show up three to four miles away from any known infestations," he said. He was talking about the Emerald Ash Borer--or EAB, as it's known. "There could be thousands upon thousands of beetles feeding," he added.

Spies researches the EAB's destructive effect on ash trees. "It drys out the trees, and the bark cracks," he said. The beetle's larvae burrow into the wood and feed on the tree's nutrients. The Emerald Ash Borer is one of the nation's most destructive tree pests. It's killed tens of millions of ash trees in 18 states.

The city has 38,000 ash trees on public boulevards. There are more than 200,000 ash trees in the city -- they account for about 21 percent of all Minneapolis trees. So this spring and summer, you might want to get out and enjoy our tree canopy before it gets kicked in the ash.

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