Iowa communities facing infestations of the tree pest known as the emerald ash borer would get some help disposing of the trees under legislation approved in the Iowa Senate this week.
A state law bans all yard and tree waste from landfills, but the bill would allow communities to dump stumps, branches and leaves from infected trees in local landfills. Senator Dick Dearden, a Democrat from Des Moines, notes some cities are removing ash trees preemptively and they need options for all that tree waste.
“We’re all faced with the emerald ash borer coming to our localities,” Dearden says, “and this would allow that the landfill be able to accept this.”
Taking the trash from cut-down ash trees to the landfill won’t be cheap, but Dearden says some cities may have to use the option.
“That would be the last resort for cities and towns is to bury it (in a landfill) because they’re not interested in paying tipping fees,” Dearden says. “But if there’s too much of the material, it has to go somewhere and so it would go to the landfills.”
The beetle known as the emerald ash borer has been discovered in at least eight Iowa counties. State officials say ash trees account for about 17 percent of the trees standing today in Iowa cities. Some have higher concentrations, however. Sioux City officials estimate about a third of the trees that line city streets and populate Sioux City’s public parks are ash trees. The City of Des Moines has initiated a plan to remove 72-hundred ash trees from public property in Iowa’s capital city. Cedar Rapids officials began taking down and replacing ash trees along city streets in 2010 and so far have replaced over a thousand.
A statewide quarantine is in place, restricting the movement of wood and debris from ash trees into areas where the bug hasn’t yet been found.