PESKY PROBLEM: Ash Trees Getting Axed

Dozens of trees in Johnston will soon be getting axed. It’s all in an effort to stay ahead of a pesky problem that’s moving in.

“There`s nothing to stop it, understanding that it`s headed this way, you can either wait until it gets here or take some precautions,” says Director of Johnston Parks and Rec John Schmitz.

Schmitz says the emerald ash borer has been confirmed in five Iowa counties including its recent arrival in Union County.

It is an invasive beetle that burrows into ash trees and cuts off their ability to transport water and nutrients, killing it.

The city of Johnston wants to cut down on the damage the bugs could do.

“We`re removing trees that are in decline or are in higher density areas,” says Urban Forest Leader Tracy Irwin.

Irwin has been working to identify aging ash trees and marked these for removal.

“Understanding all the facts that are there we decided to get ahead of the game,” says Schmitz.

The city is also hoping to educate the public on the emerald ash borer and what to do with ash trees on their property.

“Trying to get the message out to the community and showing them what we`re doing, explaining what we`re doing but also letting them know that it`s something they should plan on as private homeowners. Not automatically to remove the trees right now but at least come up with a plan and the understanding that the emerald ash borer is heading this way,” says Schmitz.

The city will remove 56 trees next week and replace them with several different varieties hoping to get a jump-start before the emerald ash borer burrows in.

“The more we can take care of now, the less we have to worry about then,” says Irwin.

The Johnston City Council approved $75,000 for the removal and replanting of new trees.



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