Eastern Iowans concerned about “X” marked trees slated to be cut down since derecho

Updated: May. 25, 2021 at 6:15 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Greg Cleveland can point out the trees on his block still waiting to be trimmed. 4 of 6 along a stretch of road near his home are marked with X’s.

“It was about a week, maybe ten days ago we came home and noticed all the yellow x’s,” said Cleveland. “We called the city, and they explained any X means it is coming down.”

With their neighborhood, near 42nd Street NE and “E” Avenue, already bare from fallen trees, he feels more are “unnecessarily” coming down. One neighbor says the City told her the reason is that the trees “wouldn’t do well in the long run.”

“We physically had a squirrel come up to us the day after the derecho and you could see it’s eyes were freaking out. They have no homes, or no food sources,” he said.

In these X-marked trees, Cleveland built squirrel homes to get them through the Winter, but was concerned they would come down with the tagged trees.

“Everybody loves it because it looks like a park over here. We have lost enough of them naturally and now they want to take down what’s remaining,” he added.

Cleveland and a group of neighbors reached out to the city, and the response from the city came back with a switch to not take them down.

“There are some trees that we have said you know what we agree, we are going to try and see if we can save this tree,” said Scott Hock, Director of Parks and Recreation for Cedar Rapids.

Hock says they’ve reviewed 42,000 right-of-way trees since the derecho, but are still assessing damage. For now, he doesn’t anticipate anymore trees being tagged.

“Those are ones that are structurally unsafe and that would not have a chance of recovering,” said Hock. “We have kept a lot of trees that might have come down. They might qualify for the FEMA reimbursement, but we said we want to keep these trees.”

The city applied for the 6-month FEMA extension deadline, and wants people to reach out with any questions.

It expects removals to be done in a month. Then, they have close to 8,000 stumps still left to remove. However, Hock says they have already started replacing what was taken away.

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