The  Sherburne Soil and Water Conservation District  (SWCD) is partnering with new agencies and using the power of volunteers to ensure forest health in Minnesota.

Sherburne SWCD held two volunteer training sessions this year to recruit community members to assist in pruning trees and observing woodpeckers for early emerald ash borer (EAB) detection, the fifth year for each of the programs.

The volunteer pruning program is done in partnership with the University of Minnesota Tree Care Advocate Program. This year, nearly a dozen volunteers assisted with pruning more than 300 trees, focusing on newly planted trees (on the landscape less than 20 years) and eliminating defective branch attachments to prevent failure and potential mortality.

Although the SWCD has partnered with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Elk River City Parks for four years, this is the first year that the SWCD has expanded the partnership to a regional level. New partners for 2019 include Stearns and Wright counties and city parks in St. Cloud and Buffalo to conduct the woodpecker activity survey program work for early detection of EAB, an emerging invasive forest pest in Minnesota. More than 30 volunteers attended the training.

“Administering these volunteer opportunities has grown from a vision to a privilege for me,” Sherburne SWCD Forest Resource Specialist Gina Hugo said. 

“I can’t say enough about how grateful I am to the volunteers being willing to give of their time and increase their skill set for the greater good.”