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Local Editorials

Emerald ash borer has arrived

This is my third column on this subject, and I’m beating the drum on this issue because the Emerald Ash Borer’s entrance and march across the state is absolutely inevitable. 

In simpler terms, if you have green, black or white Ash trees in your yard, or along your street, the chances are fairly high they will become infected and lost to this major tree pest that has hit America.

Foresters surmise the borer entered the U. S. from Asia or Eastern Russia via wooden pallets.  The result has been highly devastating where the beetle is starting to do its damage.  The costs of infested tree removal, disposal of debris and reforestation are significant. 

And, although there are claims to the contrary, it appears the actual success of defeating this tsunami moving into Iowa are highly ineffective.  Likewise, there has been little success in killing the beetle to the point where it will not be a threat.  At the moment, we just do the best we can, and trust our state forestry department and arborists to provide leadership and guidance.

Chemical treatment of individual trees is the best of the available poor options. Add to this the fact that few communities have an inventory of street-scape vegetation. And, if the city is able to financially commit to the treatment of trees between the street and sidewalk, there has to be a similar effort by the home owner to do the same on their own property.

Burlington is identified by state foresters as being fully infected; Fairfield will soon have that designation; Allamakee and Clayton counties both have pockets of infestation,; and, just this week, the Emerald Ash Borer was found in Creston, in southwest Iowa.  You can rest absolutely assured that there are hundreds of other communities in the state where this forest tree insect pest is currently present, but yet to be discovered. 

It is small, yet deadly, and can kill a tree in two years by girdling the cambium, just inside the bark.  When you notice a thinning canopy and dieback on your Ash trees, you can be certain it is too late to save them. 

There goes that beauty, a void in your property landscape, the need to replant a variety of new species, and the loss of shade until replaced by new plantings.

For right now, it would be wise for communities and residents to Google “Emerald Ash Borer” and become knowledgeable about the facts of recognition, possible means of treatment, and recommended tree species to plant next spring to replace the Ash whose destiny is pretty well determined.  In addition, the Forestry Department of DNR has guidance, along with Iowa State University Extension Services.

Rest assured I shall be dealing with this issue more in the future, for the costs to citizens, communities and the state of Iowa will be substantial.

• • •

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to readers.  If I can be of assistance on issues of concern, feel free to call me at 515-975-8608, or email

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