Ash trees coming down
Trees, specifically ash trees, are coming down around Washington. This is to help prepare the city for the emerald ash borer, even though it hasn’t been found in Washington County yet.
Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said there were 15 trees identified by the Washington Tree Beautification Committee that needed to be removed.
“Three are being taken down right away,” Hinson said. “All of these trees that are being removed aren’t in immediate danger but are dying.”
These trees are also on city property, between the curb and the sidewalk in the city’s right of way, Hinson said. By state law the city is responsible for their removal.
“I would say the removal of the trees could cost anywhere between $500 and $1,000 (per tree),” Hinson said. “This is why we’re trying to do them in clusters because it could get very expensive.”
The city is bidding out the tree removal to three different companies, Hinson said.
Marde McConnell, Washington Tree Beautification Committee chairperson, said the committee looked at the terraces around town and began a list of ash trees that may need to be removed.
Andy Dahl, a member of the Washington Tree Beautification Committee and a state-certified arborist, looked at the list and helped identified the 15 ash trees that are now marked for removal, McConnell said.
“The trees that are marked are not very healthy trees,” McConnell said. “They’re the first ones the emerald ash borer would affect.”
The goal of the committee isn’t to take down all of the ash trees in the city, as other cities are doing across Iowa, McConnell said.
“Different communities have different approaches to the emerald ash borer,” McConnell said. “For us, it makes more sense to do it gradually, starting with the most unhealthy trees but we don’t want things to look too barren.”
The Washington Park Board is taking a different approach, said Washington Park Superintendent Tim Widmer.
“Our policy is to enjoy them until they die,” Widmer said. “We’re not going to cut any trees down until they’re diseased.”
Five years ago a tree inventory was done at Sunset Park, Widmer said. The inventory found there was about 60 ash trees there.
“They were planted pretty heavily back in the ‘70s when elm trees were affected [by Dutch elm disease],” he said. “Hopefully, that doesn’t happen again where people plant one type of tree to replace the others. People need to plant a variety of trees.”