In January, Bruce Blair, of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, cautioned Dyersville Council members about a potential problem that could plague the forestation of their town.
He warned of the Emerald Ash Borer, an insect known to devastate tree communities. He said Dyersville was very susceptible and advised the city diversify its tree population.
It appears as though the city took Blair’s warnings to heart. Last week, the city contracted the removal of several trees along the FEMA flood buyout region and near Westside Park on Third Street SW. Now, large heaps of ground wood lay south of St. Francis Xavier school.
But Parks and Recreation Director Pete Bonifas said there are many reasons why tree removal is good for the city.
“There are a lot of things that have factored into the trees that have been removed,” Bonifas said. “Right now we have a lot going on: street projects, safety hazards as well as the ‘urban forestation’ Blair described.”
Bonifas added he’s most excited for the beautification of the town, and the way the tree removal makes room for the Westside Park trail project.
The city also established the Living Assets Committee and appointed Dyersville master gardener Pat McCarthy as chair. McCarthy now advises the council on what trees are appropriate for removal.
“For every tree we take down, we’re going to plant two,” he said, adding that the tree removal is part of a 10-year process. The Living Assets Committee has a list of 10 species they will spread out over the town to diversify the population. In all, McCarthy said he could “easily” see his committee planting 2,000 trees, something he called “a drop in the bucket.”
McCarthy also referenced the city’s 2008 commitment to the Imagine 2020 project. Priority two of that list is to establish a “trail friendly” community.
“This is something the people had asked for,” McCarthy said. “It’s always a good thing when city leadership supports what the people ask for.”
Bonifas said that, through grants and free consultancy from the state led Community Visioning program, the tree removal and Westside Trail projects come at no additional cost to taxpayers. The Living Assets Committee received a $6,000 grant from Black Hills Energy and has accepted tree donations to cover costs.
Soon Bonifas will unveil concept art for how he envisions the projects to come to form.
“We knew Westside Park was going to need its own plan,” he said. “When you talk about buying out 30-something properties, you’ve got to have a plan for that. I’m excited to show everyone these plans when the time is ready.”
As for Living Assets, McCarthy is asking for donations and volunteer help for projects to loom. Each new tree, he estimated, will cost $100-200.
“This is just the start,” McCarthy said. “This whole thing is mainly set up for future generations. Hopefully, (beautification) will also entice new businesses, homeowners. It just makes Dyersville a nice place.”
No dates have been set for when Bonifas will unveil preliminary park sketches, though he said he expects to show them to councilmembers in September.