DMACC prepares to save campus ash trees from pest

ash-webA pest has found its way into Iowa through the Ash trees.

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an insect that is thought to be infecting trees throughout the state of Iowa through firewood.

According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Emerald Ash Borer is a small green invasive wood boring beetle that attacks and kills ash trees. The adults live on the outside of ash trees, feeding on the leaves during the summer months. The larvae look similar to white grubs and feed on the living plant tissue underneath the bark of ash trees. The trees are killed by the tunneling activity of the larvae under the tree’s bark, which disrupts the vascular flow.

EAB was first discovered in 2002 in Detroit, Michigan. Since its discovery, EAB has been found in 18 states and in Canada.

So far  it has  been spotted in the counties of Allamakee,Des Moines,Jefferson, Cedar,Union,Black Hawk, Wapello, Bremer, and Jasper.

In the state of Iowa, there are approximately 52 million woodland ash trees and 3.1 million urban ash trees according to the DNR.

On the Ankeny DMACC campus there are approximately 1,300 trees; out of those there are around 400 ash trees.

DMACC has a plan to manage the expected arrival of the EAB, according to Ned Miller, Director of the Physical Plant.

For the tree inventory phase,  they plan on mapping and doing inventory on all the campus’ tree populations. After that, they will then identify the ash trees for each campus noting highest priority trees for options of cutting, treating, or other possible solutions. During this stage they will also identify non-ash trees that may also be in need of removal.

According to Miller, once the EAB is identified in Polk County,  they will go through ash trees on campus sites that will be treated to slow or prevent infection. They also plan to certify staff at the Physical plant for the Ankeny campus that will administer the ash borer treatment. Finally, they will establish and maintain a treatment schedule of the identified ash trees on each campus.

 Treatment will have to be continued for the entire life of the tree since it cannot be stopped or the tree will die.

The Iowa State Forestry Department projects that the Emerald Ash Borer will eventually affect every ash tree in Iowa, and the Midwest, so all should be aware of the risk.

If a student has an ash tree at home, they will need their trees to be identified for whether or not the tree can go through treatment or if it should just be removed.

DMACC has a plan for the felled trees that involves identifying ash trees that will be removed with priority given to those that present safety risks to pedestrians, vehicles or buildings. Also, trees with  6” or less branches will be mulched for use on the DMACC campus sites. Then larger- sized branches and trunks will be disposed of at designated sites or turned into firewood, as long as it does not travel outside of the state.

As of February 2014, all 99 counties in Iowa have been quarantined  by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to slow the movement of this destructive pest to non-quarantined areas/states, according to the Iowa State Extension and Outreach department.

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