WATERLOO — A fund drive is in the home stretch to replace trees in the Prospect Boulevard area that will be lost to the emerald ash borer.
While no other neighborhood in Waterloo or Cedar Falls has mounted a similar drive, the problem is pervasive. Combined, the cities have lost more than 3,500 trees to the infestation and another 4,100 are targeted for removal, officials said.
In partnership with the city of Waterloo and Waterloo Community Foundation, neighbors along Prospect Boulevard and members of the Kingsley Neighborhood Association are raising funds to replace 52 ash trees in that neighborhood.
Tax-deductible contributions are being accepted through Dec. 31 by the Waterloo Community Foundation, PO Box 1253, Waterloo, IA, 50704. Volunteer coordinator Rick Smith may be contacted at RickALO@gmail.com for project information.
Donated funds will purchase replacement trees that will be planted this spring and cared for by neighbors and volunteers throughout the next growing season. The group’s goal is $16,000. So far, $9,000 has been raised, Kingsley association member Smith said.
The neighborhood has a history of such drives. In the mid-1970s, volunteers led by Dr. Sam Christensen raised funds to plant the present ash trees to replace trees lost to Dutch elm disease.
Ash trees along Prospect have been marked for removal with yellow ribbons. First discovered in Waterloo by the city’s forestry department in 2014, city officials are removing ash trees throughout the city.
Waterloo City Forester Todd Derifield said there are about 55 ash trees on Prospect Boulevard. Neighbors have paid to have three chemically treated, and the rest will be removed.
In all, the city has removed approximately 2,800 ash trees from parks, golf courses and rights of way. There are approximately 1,800 ash trees still present on those public properties, 167 of which are being treated with chemicals at adjacent homeowners’ expense.
“This leaves 1,633 ash trees to remove in Waterloo,” Derifield said. “Unfortunately, most of those trees are infested and need to be removed in a timely manner before they become a hazard to the public. As the tree declines and dies it becomes very dry and brittle, causing large branch and trunk failure.”
In the larger Kingsley neighborhood — bordered by Campbell, Kimball, Ridgeway and Ansborough avenues — there are 304 trees in the public right of way. Property owners have decided to treat 57 of those trees. That leaves 247 ash trees that will be removed.
“We should be starting these removals in the next few weeks. We are trying to finish another neighborhood first,” Derifield said.
Cedar Falls does not have a program to use donations to replace street trees, although there are people who might be interested, said Mark Ripplinger, the city’s director of municipal operations and programs.
The City Council dedicated $10,000 annually for street tree replacement, and other grants increased that to around $13,000-$15,000 annually.
“We estimate that since we started removing ash trees due to the EAB, we have removed around 700. That would leave roughly another 2,300 or so on the right of way that need to be removed,” Ripplinger said.