City given tree grant

The city of Webster City has been awarded a grant to help plant trees around the community.

A project grant for $2,250 from the Power of Trees Program, sponsored by Black Hills Energy and Trees Forever, will fund the planting of local trees. Recreation and Public Grounds Director Kent Harfst said the funds will be used for several planting projects.

The grant follows the 13th year that Webster City has received a Tree City USA designation. The City hosts tree plantings in April in celebration of both Earth Day and Arbor Day. The plantings are done by volunteers and Harfst said the grant helps minimize the cost of the project for taxpayers.

“It’s a nice award for the community. It helps show some credibility that we value the importance of trees in the community and it helps out for grants such as this one,” Harfst said.

One project Harfst said that the City is undertaking is replacing ash trees that have been recently removed after being infested with the emerald ash borer. The small, green, invasive wood boring beetle attacks and kills ash trees. According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the insect kills trees as their larvae tunnel under a tree’s bark.

In Nov. 2013, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources announced a quarantine of 25 counties in eastern Iowa to prevent the spread of the insects that are native to east Asia. Three years ago, Harfst said City officials came together to come up with a plan to compensate for those dead trees.

“We though, instead of waiting for them to all start dying, let’s have a plan in place to replace those trees methodically so we don’t have to pay for the replacements all at once,” Harfst said. “So, we came up with a long term plan for replacing sick trees or trees near the end of their lives. We’ve been removing them slowly and replacing them with a variety of trees so this problem doesn’t happen again.”

Harfst said the City is also planting trees along the Boone River as part of a reforestation project and is planting new trees at local parks.

The City is also replacing trees affected by the emerald ash borer or old age on City owned right-of-way areas. With this grant, Harfst said the City is able to offer property owners adjacent to these right-of-way trees that are removed a new tree to plant either in that right-of-way or on their property.

If property owners have ash trees that were cut down in the last year, Harfst said they should have received a letter about the project. For more information, contact Harfst at Fuller Hall at 832-9193.