Waterloo tree inventory helps as ash borer arrives
WATERLOO (AP) — Waterloo officials said the difficult task of dealing with emerald ash borers will be made easier by a citywide tree inventory.
The city council voted to begin the tree inventory in 2007 after experts warned that the ash-killing insect eventually would arrive in Waterloo, and now their decision is paying off, according to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.
Last week, Waterloo became the sixth location where the invasive insect has been found in Iowa.
“This has really organized our day-to-day operations ... [replacing] piles and piles of paper,” City Forester Todd Derifield said. “It’s going to be difficult to deal with the emerald ash borer the way it is, but it would be more difficult without this inventory.”
Derifield said the computerized inventory allows him to note the location of each of the 4,364 ash trees on public property in Waterloo and keep track of their health. The inventory doesn’t track trees on private property.
Ash trees make up about 18 percent of the nearly 25,000 trees the city maintains in its 52 parks, three golf courses and along Waterloo streets.
Waterloo, like many cities, began planting a lot of ash trees after Dutch Elm Disease killed many of Waterloo’s trees in the early 1970s.
“They proved to be a tough tree that could survive in almost any conditions so they continued to be planted and perhaps overplanted,” Derifield said.
State Forester Paul Tauke said other communities should establish their own inventories because all will eventually have to deal with the insects.
Besides tracking ash trees, such an inventory will help officials decide what kind of replacement trees to plant, Tauke said. He noted that in the Cedar County city of Mechanicsville, 31 percent of trees are ash and 40 percent are maple, which are can be vulnerable to diseases.
“My recommendation is not to plant any more maple [in Mechanicsville],” Tauke said.