Council to host ‘Spencer Urban Forestry Management Plan’

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tree inventory, emerald ash borer plan to be discussed

Ash trees make up approximately 20 percent of the 10,000 trees owned by the city of Spencer, which means that more than 2,000 trees are at risk of being destroyed by the emerald ash borer if the invasive species makes its way to Clay County. In response to such a possibility, city officials and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources have inventoried the trees owned by the city, with the compiled information, recommendations and action plans to be provided to the public during an open house at 6 p.m. Monday at Spencer City Hall and revisited during the council meeting.

“This urban forestry plan will be kind of a precursor to an emerald ash borer plan, so we’ll take the information we get off the urban inventory plan and kind of blend it in with some decisions we’ll have to make,” Spencer Parks Director Delray Bredehoeft said.

“All trees owned by the city were inventoried. You physically go out and identify the tree, species, size, health, if there’s any concerns like rot or decay, ... insect or disease concerns, all of those things are noted,” said Jason Walker, district forester at the Iowa DNR. “Throughout that process, the city of Spencer’s trees were logged, including the cemetery and golf course. Over 10,000 trees. All that information is compiled, and helps calculate the value of those trees, the benefit they provide, but the more critical part of that is the species composition of what the urban forest is in Spencer. How many ash trees the city of Spencer has a responsibility for in their public lands. ... As emerald ash borer continue to march through the state, that’s an incredibly important piece of information to know,”

He continued, “Some of the information Monday night is the benefits to air quality, shade and energy relief ... aesthetics, storm-water retention, (it) equates to roughly around $146 of benefits per tree. That’s something that is important to recognize in the city of Spencer”

Walker also cautioned that the insects have the potential to create a large change in tree population like the loss of elm trees nationwide due to Dutch elm disease.

“It’s a bug that burrows, tunnels just underneath the tissue of the tree, and you can’t see it or the damage it’s doing to the tree. It completes its life cycle under the bark of the tree, when the populations are high enough to infest individual trees, they are able to literally kill it, as they build and build it becomes a volcano effect and are able to just kill every single ash tree that’s not treated with an insecticide. Similar to Dutch elm disease, this is going to have an extremely dangerous effect to our ash trees,” Walker said. “Too often we hear city managers and city councilmen that say, ‘if the bug comes,’ and I always correct them, saying ‘when the bug comes.’ It will come at some point in time, the critical piece of this puzzle is the plan and it’s something the community can take to implement something that’s going to be prepared for when the bug does arrive.”

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