New uses for dead ash, fir and tamarack trees could help restore Minnesota’s forests

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

By Greg Stanley

One invasive beetle is ready to devour just about every ash tree left in Minnesota’s woods. A caterpillar has killed more than 200,000 acres worth of balsam fir trees in just the last year. Another beetle, a native in the midst of a population boom, has already destroyed about half of the state’s tamaracks.

Add it all up and pest outbreaks have left Minnesota with quite a lot of dead trees, useless lumber and dried-out and wasted stands, which, if left to rot, will become one large fire hazard.

But there’s little incentive to cut ash, balsam fir and tamarack trees down—even as state and local foresters need to thin them before the pests come through—because they have limited uses and have never been highly sought for lumber.