A workshop series will kickoff Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m. in the City Council chambers, when DNR Urban Forestry Coordinator Emma Hannigan will give a presentation on ash trees and EAB.
A second workshop by Meredith Borchardt, Field Coordinator for Trees Forever, will be held Monday, March 12, 6 p.m. at the Park Maintenance Shop with a focus on tree pruning and care – a vital but often overlooked task that is necessary for new and old trees alike. All workshops are free and open to the public.
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a non-native, invasive beetle species was first found in Michigan in 2002 and discovered in Winneshiek County in 2012. EAB is 100 percent fatal to Iowa’s native ash trees, regardless of size or age. The U.S. Forest service has estimated that there are over 52 million woodland ash trees in our state, and over three million trees in urban areas and communities.
So what does this mean for Winneshiek County residents? We are on the cusp of a dramatic change in our urban forests, and a great deal of money will be spent on tree removal and treatment. A completed tree inventory of all species in the Right of Way (ROW) indicates Decorah stands to lose 425 trees along its streets. Decorah has implemented an Urban Forestry Plan that manages EAB in the ROW. However, an estimated 1200 trees will need to be removed on private property at the expense of the landowner. With a cost of roughly $800-$2000 per tree removal, Decorah citizens will spend over $1.6M in tree removal over the next five years. Establishing EAB management plan for your own ash trees is vital to insure our urban canopy stays safe and healthy.
With the help of grant funding, Decorah’s Tree Board has been working diligently over the years to replace trees as they are removed, and has a voucher program that offsets the cost of replacement trees for homeowners, up to $60 per tree for as many as two trees per year. Last year, the tree board secured $13,616 in grant funding and donations to plant 105 trees. This year the Tree Board is focused on community support and they are sponsoring a series of workshops to help homeowners identify and plan for EAB.
Residents have a lot of questions – and our City Forester, the Tree Board and ISU Extension are here to help. If you are wondering how to identify an ash tree and signs of EAB infestation, treatment options, or are concerned about removal costs and insurance claims and wonder about treatment options, we recommend attending our workshops.
In the meantime, if you have questions or concerns or want to learn how you can help, please reach out to the City Forester, cityforester@decorahia.org or phone 563-277-5153, or stop in to the Winneshiek County Extension Office for materials and support.