Emerald Ash Borer Will Claim Trees All Over University of Iowa Campus

Published: Feb. 10, 2016 at 3:42 PM CST
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Ash trees all over the University of Iowa campus, many near the Pentacrest, will need to be chopped down and replaced over the next three to five years after the presence of the Emerald Ash Borer was found on campus this week.

Andy Dahl, campus arborist, said the presence of Emerald Ash Borer is something officials have been preparing for since it began killing trees across the Midwest several years ago.

"I don't know if you can ever put a positive spin on good timing of an ecological disaster such as an entire species going by the wayside," Dahl said. "But the silver lining in this, one of the things we're going to do, is diversify our urban forest."

Many of the ash trees,

, are in very well-traveled areas. Ash trees line the T. Anne Cleary walkway, just north of the Pentacrest. Ash trees also line portions of Iowa Avenue to the west and Jefferson Street to the north.

Dahl said many of the trees are around a half-century old. Officials have decided the best way to handle the "ecological disaster" is to replace the trees with different species while avoiding treatment, a process that is expected to save money in the long run and prevent similar infestations in future.

The University does not have a cost estimate for replacing the trees, but believes it will likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. City of Iowa City officials are also dealing with similar issues. They plan to remove and replace an estimated 2,000 ash trees over the course of the next 15 years.

The presence of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer has been found in 30 counties across Iowa so far. UI officials said they hope to find renewable ways to use the wood from the downed trees. One possibility is to burn the wood chips for energy at the UI power plant.