Monday, August 10, 2009
Counting Trees in New Albin
(Can you tell work is slow this morning? I'm catching up on all the blogging I had been meaning to do for the past 3-4 weeks.)
A few weeks ago, I spotted a stranger in my lawn, staring at our trees and then making notes on a clipboard. I of course had to find out what on earth he was up to. Turns out that he was with the State of Iowa, which, in an uncharacteristic fit of proactivity, had decided to make a survey of all the trees within city limits of many, if not most or all, of Iowa's towns, so that they would have an idea what and how many trees are likely to need replacing in the next few years due to pests. We are facing an imminent invasion of gypsy moths and emerald ash borers in Iowa, and while the state is gearing up to fight them, it's also planning on contingencies like how to re-tree our state when the pests make their mark. For example, he was counting up ash, oak, maple, locust and other trees in New Albin so that the city would know that, say, 30% of the trees that it is responsible for are ashes that may need to be removed and replaced in the next 10 years. That's a totally made-up number, by the way. He pointed out that our big ol' ugly ash tree, which we already know is a problem because it's all tangled up with the power lines, is actually the city's tree, not ours, as it is on the verge between the street and our sidewalk. He said we should be happy about that one because it would be a very expensive removal.
I walked around with him and talked about our trees for awhile. I pointed out our little red oak that my daughter brought home from school on Arbor Day five years ago. When it came to us it was about the size of a pencil. It's now probably 9-10 feet tall and very healthy. He complimented it. I like anybody who likes trees. :o) This was a very nice man.
He told me about how the DNR gets early warning that an area has been infested with emerald ash borers: They go to some place where there is a lot of public coming and going, like a state campground, and they find a young ash tree and girdle it in springtime. Basically they would throw this little tree into a state of stress. Emerald ash borers go straight for distressed, weakened trees and do their thing, so if there are any ash borers in the area, they will find this poor little tree. In fall, the tree would be cut down and checked to see if there were any signs of ash borers under the bark. If there aren't, then it's a safe bet that the area is clear, so far, of ash borers.
I got the man to pose for these pictures with Ugly Old Ash Tree when I told him I wanted to blog him. He said the more the word gets out, the better.