Plans underway to remove ash trees
The city of Fairfield and Alliant Energy are partnering to remove ash trees from the city-owned parking.
Alliant Energy line clearance inspector Morgan Poole met with Fairfield public works superintendent Darrel Bisgard and city councilor Michael Halley Monday morning to discuss removing the ash trees. Some of the city’s ash trees are infected with the emerald ash borer, and the city believes it will lose all its ash trees to the insect in just a few years.
At Monday’s meeting, Poole said Alliant crews are willing to remove any infested ash tree that interferes with a power line, but will only remove trees approved by the city.
Halley said the city follows an unwritten rule of planting two trees for every tree it removes from the right-of-way. He said the city council plans to formalize this policy by updating the tree ordinance before spring. Residents who wish to plant in the right-of-way must contact city hall to receive a permit. This ensures no utility lines will be damaged and that the species of tree is appropriate for the location.
Bisgard, Halley and Poole studied a map that showed where ash trees are in the city right-of-way. It includes those growing into Alliant power lines. This map was produced by the Department of Natural Resources, and Alliant has plans to conduct its own inventory of the ash trees in town.
Halley said as the infested trees are removed around town, the branches will be ground into mulch while the larger pieces will be kept for firewood. The public works department is working with the Arbor Committee to develop a list of individuals who will take fallen trees. Anyone interested may contact city hall at 472-6193.
Halley said between 12-15 percent of the trees in the city’s right-of-way are ash trees. In certain parks, the figure is much higher. Half of the trees in Central Park are ash and in O.B. Nelson Park ash trees make up three-quarters of the population.
The city council has formally recommended residents not use insecticide to kill the ash borer because it harms other animals and because the insecticide lingers in the soil. Halley said the negative side effects of insecticide are not worth the benefits.
Burlington is about to ban its residents from using soil-drenching insecticides. Halley said no one has proposed such a ban in Fairfield, yet. He said such insecticides are not good for urban environments where the trees are close together.