Nick Fetty | February 12, 2016
The invasive emerald ash borer (EAB) has made its way into Johnson County, according to officials with Iowa’s Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.
Facilities Management crews for the University of Iowa made the discovery this week after noticing woodpecker activity on the upper branches of an ash tree south of the campus’ Main Library. The east Asian beetle was first sighted in Iowa City by a resident 19 months ago, however officials at the time were unable to find signs of a larger infestation.
UI Facilities Management crews plan to remove the campus’ more than 550 ash trees in the coming years. Ash trees make up roughly seven percent of the tree species on campus including areas along the T. Anne Cleary walkway as well as the Pentacrest. The cost for the project is unknown but is expected to be “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Officials have discussed the possibility of the using the trees they remove as a fuel source for the UI Power Plant.
This is at least the second mass removal of trees on the UI campus during its nearly 170-year history. More than 2,000 American elms dotted the UI campus prior to an outbreak of the Dutch elm disease during the 1960s and 70s which wiped out all but two trees. Those two trees still stand today with one on the Pentacrest and the other near Rienow Hall.
The EAB was first discovered in Iowa in 2010. Johnson County is now the 30th county in the state to report an EAB infestation.