During the Oct. 5 meeting of the Fort Pierre City Council, Ron Schreiner updated the members on the Emerald Ash Borer inventory project. He said with the tree-killing insects having now migrated to Sioux Falls and moving westward, he estimated that it will take about seven years for them to reach Fort Pierre.

The project is in conjunction with the South Dakota Department of Agriculture.

Beginning the middle of September, the five volunteer members of the Arbor Board started marking the ash trees in the Fort Pierre city limits. The goal is to gradually remove the trees before a possible budget crisis is felt in seven years. Infested trees must be taken down before they are hollowed out by the bugs, and fall down possibly causing damage or injury. Trees along streets, boulevards, and alleys within the city right of way are part of the project, this includes trees between the curbs and sidewalks or 15 feet back from traffic ways where there is no sidewalk. Trees on private property are the responsibility and liability of the landowner.

One hundred and seventy-two individual ash trees are on Fort Pierre public land, and 15 clusters of tightly-crowded trees have been identified. A numbered purple tag has been screwed into each tree, or cable-tied to clusters. “If you see a purple tag, please do not remove it. It is just for inventory,” Schreiner said. “There is a possibility to save some specific trees, for about $100 worth of treatment per year.” One such suggested remarkable tree is in the triangle area in front of the Sioux Nation business, and seven or so in front of and around the Catholic church. The city council can now address the incremental taking down of the trees and the possible saving of specific trees.

On a related topic, Mayor Gloria Hanson praised the community garden project, now in its third — and very successful — year. Originally, approximately $50,000 was raised to build the community garden, which was designed for low maintenance. “There is a waiting list of people who would like to get in there. People absolutely love it,” said Hanson. She said that the charges, including the use of water, are thought to be reasonable by the users of the garden. They especially like the raised beds. Schreiner added that, at the end of the growing season, users should put plant material in the on-hand trailer for later disposal. The garden features 24 raised beds, which provide handicapped accessibility. Bed rental comes with water and lighting. Improvements in 2019 included a chain link fence, three fruit trees and wood-chip ground cover. Last spring, a handicap-accessible picnic table with an umbrella was added to the garden.

This week being Fire Prevention Week, it was emphasized that people are not supposed to burn rubbish or yard waste in the city limits without explicit permission.

Lighting for the walk bridge that spans the Bad River to Lilly Park is set for the day after Thanksgiving, in conjunction with the annual tree lighting.

The Fort Pierre City Council meets on the first and third Monday of the month, starting at 6:30 p.m., and until further notice in the meeting room of the S.D. Municipal League at 208 Island Drive.

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