An Iowa Department of Natural Resources official says most, if not all, of the ash trees in Burlington, Iowa will die from emerald ash borer in the next five to seven years and the infestation will spread across the state.
Many eyes are on Burlington to see how, in times of tight budgets, city officials handle the emerald ash borer infestation. Burlington is one of three eastern-Iowa locations where emerald ash borer has been found in ash trees. Firewood was quarantined there in July 2013. Scott County banned firewood from outside counties in and effort to try to prevent the spread of emerald ash borer.
EAB symptoms include cracking in the bark along a branch, yellowing and thinning of the tree’s crown, scrape marks left by woodpeckers seeking the EAB larvae and small D-shaped holes where the larvae exit the tree.
DNR Forest Health Program Leader Tivon Feeley says the infestation will spread across Iowa.
“The best we can do is try to slow EAB movement,” Feeley said.
It is currently up to cities to figure out how to pay for removing and replacing infected trees, and some are watching Burlington for guidance on how they might handle an infestation in the future.
“In five to seven years, most ― if not all ― of the ash trees in Burlington will die from infestation of EAB,” said Feeley. “Residential landowners that have ash trees should begin planting replacement tree species now. That way the new trees get a few years’ growth before currently large, healthy appearing ash trees succumb to EAB.”
The DNR estimates ash trees make up about 15 percent of all urban and rural forests.