Foresters from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources recently spent a day scouting out trees infested with emerald ash borer in eastern Iowa. Des Moines County became the second county confirmed in July to have the small pest that invades and kills the trees after a homeowner in Burlington called to report a problem tree.
DNR Urban Forest coordinator Emma Hanigan says the field work took place during the DNR’s annual statewide conference to prepare them as the bug spreads. “So that when they go back to their home districts, they can see some signs and symptoms and recognize that, so we have people out there scouting,” Hanigan says.
DNR foresters found about 40-percent of the Burlington’s ash trees have symptoms associated with the emerald ash borer. City forester, Casey Chadwick, says they are still figuring out how to deal with the invasive beetle.
“This is going to add three to four times the workload to the crew. The city as a whole is in a financial crunch, so how they’re actually going to deal with it –whether we treat, whether we remove, combination of the two — that’s just all to be determined yet,” Chadwick says. He estimates that 10 to 20 percent of Burlington’s total tree canopy will be lost.
The bug was first discovered on an island in the Mississippi River in Allamakee County in 2010. In August, the borer was found in Fairfield in Jefferson County. Officials say there is no real way to kill off the bugs once they infect a tree. Many cities are cutting down their ash trees as a preventative measure to keep the beetle from spreading.
Officials estimate Iowa has 52-million rural ash trees and another 3.1 million in urban areas. State experts say the borer is very slow moving on its own, but can be helped along by people moving firewood. They encourage you to help slow the spread of the bug by buying firewood at your campsite and not moving it around the state.