Des Moines Prepares for Emerald Ash Borer - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Des Moines Prepares for Emerald Ash Borer

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Addie Olson

aolson@myabc5.com

@addieolson

The emerald ash borer will kill almost every ash tree it comes in contact with and arborists say it's headed to the metro. Monday the Des Moines City Council discussed what they're going to do to control the problem.

The emerald ash borer wouldn't just decimate parks and wooded areas, it would leave streets – like the ones in Des Moines' Somerset Neighborhood – depleted of an icon that defines it.

"These trees are the biggest signature we've got for our neighborhood," said Somerset Neighborhood Association President Mel Pins.

The ash tree means a lot to the Somerset neighborhood in South Des Moines.

"They add to the character of our neighborhood, in fact we have a tree in our neighborhood logo," Pins said.

The neighborhood association has grown under the cover of its trees for the last 25 years.

"Every single lot has an ash tree at the curb, so we have 90 houses, we have 90 ash trees," Pins said. 

The emerald ash borer has made its way to Eastern Iowa and in November it was found in Creston.

"We are going to lose tens of millions of ash trees in the state of Iowa," said Municipal Arborist David Jahn.

Arborists say it's not a matter of if we'll find the borer in our own backyards, but when.

"We're kind of getting surrounded by it, so it won't take any time at all until we discover it here," Jahn said.

The city has come up with a $9.6 million plan to remove and treat as many urban trees as possible over 11 years.

If the trees aren't removed or treated before the bug kills them, they could fall once they die and hurt somebody.

Treating them can be expensive and there's no guarantee it will hold the borer off permanently.

Pins and the Somerset neighborhood will do what they have to save their icon.

"They are what makes our neighborhood unique," Pins said. "Unfortunately, they're exactly all the same kind of tree and they're an ash tree. So we're hopeful to do whatever we can, and save as many trees as possible."

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