City of Cedar Rapids explains process to evaluate, remove derecho-damaged trees from right-of-way

Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 10:45 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - As of Monday night, the City of Cedar Rapids reported crews had removed nearly 5,000 trees from the right-of-way that arborists determined couldn’t survive because of derecho damage.

Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation Director Scott Hock estimated that process to evaluate and cut down trees will still be underway in the spring of 2021.

“All the trees are valuable to us, so we want to save as many as we can, but we do know that some of them are just hazards that are going to have to come down,” Hock said.

Hock said a certified arborist will examine right-of-way trees in Cedar Rapids to determine if they should be removed because of the hazard they pose, adding the city is following FEMA guidelines to decide which trees should be removed or trimmed.

A day or two after trees are marked for removal, a crew will cut them down, and then the tree will be hauled away a day or two after that, according to Hock.

But, he said, residents who disagree with the arborist’s opinion can get a second opinion and bring their findings to the city, and a city staff person is completing quality-control checks to confirm evaluations.

“We’ve changed some of the originals after full evaluation, kind of a check and look and say, maybe this one’s worth watching. But we’ve changed them both ways. We’ve changed some that said, no this one needs to come down, too,” Hock said.

That’s what northeast Cedar Rapids resident Clark Rieke said he planned to do, after two maples in the right-of-way in front of his home were marked for removal Friday.

After both trees were damaged in the Aug. 10 derecho, Rieke said he had watered and tended to them in an attempt to keep them alive.

“Those 100-year-old trees that were so tall was part of our value, and we lost half of them, but everything we can save, we want to do the best we can,” he said.

Hock said the city will work with the organization Trees Forever in 2021 on replanting Cedar Rapids’ tree canopy.

People with questions about the removal process can email the City of Cedar Rapids here.

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