Cutting Trees

Crews from Steines Tree Service could be seen taking down dying Ash trees on north Second Street last week. The work to remove all the dead trees continues.

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was officially confirmed as being present in Bellevue nearly three years ago. Officials from the Iowa Department of Agriculture, who took samples here in January of 2017, tested them at a state lab, and confirmed the presence of the invasive species.

Since then, about 90 dead and dying Ash Trees have been removed from the boulevards and city right-of-ways in Bellevue. Dozens of other Ash trees have been removed from private property in town as well. Other Ash trees, including several at Cole Park have been treated and saved, with the cost paid for through donations via an adopt a tree program.

City workers removed about 40 trees in the past few years, then the city council approved the hiring of Steines Tree Service of Bellevue to take down about 50 more. Brian Steines’ crew has been seen all over town in the past few months, removing trees and stumps.

“They’re doing a great job,” said Bellevue Mayor Roger Michels, who noted that several trees were taken down on north Second Street in the past few weeks, and more (those marked with an orange X) are scheduled for removal.

While ash trees located on private property must be taken care of by the property owner,  Mike Kinter, an Entomologist from the Iowa Department of Agriculture, said that a common question is how many ash trees are on public property and what plans are in place.

According to the 2011 Bellevue Management Plan, there are about 140 ash trees on city property, making up approximately 25 percent of the street and parks tree inventory (with maples topping the list).

The original plan was to remove most of the Ash trees and replace them.

The trees were supposed to be replaced with the nearly 200 trees which were planted in Allen Ernst’s back yard on Mill Creek Road four years ago by the Bellevue Rotary Club in preparation for the pending EAB invasion.

The trees were donated to the City of Bellevue by the local service organization in an effort to replace the community’s many ash trees.

With an array of White Oak, Red Oak and Hackberry seedlings, the new trees are still part of the city’s “selective re-planting” efforts in the community boulevards. The trees were purchased through Jackson County Soil and Water Conservation and delivered to Bellevue.

However, most of the trees removed on city property have not been replaced with other species as of this winter, but some may be planted in the future.

The spread of Emerald Ash Borer was similar to the Dutch Elm Disease that hit Bellevue in the 1960s, which eliminated many trees in town. The city conducted a similar tree removal effort back then as well.

  Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) is a small green invasive wood boring beetle that attacks and kills ash trees. The adults live on the outside of ash trees feeding on the leaves during the summer months. The larvae look similar to white grubs and feed on the living plant tissue (phloem and cambium) underneath the bark of ash trees. The trees are killed by the tunneling activity of the larvae under the tree's bark, which disrupts the vascular flow.

The metallic green beetle is native to East Asia and was imported to the United States within the wood of shipping crates from China. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was first discovered in North America near Detroit, Michigan in 2002. Since the first discovery it has also been found in many states and in Canada.

EAB attacks native ash trees of any size, age, or stage of health. Millions of ash trees have already been killed in infested areas. Much of Iowa's forestland is densely populated with ash trees, and Iowa's community street trees are heavily planted with ash cultivars. Early inventory data indicates that there are 52 million woodland ash trees and 3.1 million urban ash trees.

Trees that have been attacked by EAB can die within 2 years.

Research has shown that EAB can only fly a few miles, which helps slow its natural spread. However, it is easily transported to new areas when people inadvertently move emerald ash borer larvae inside of infested firewood, ash nursery stock, and other ash items.