Iowa joins Burlington in battle against Emerald Ash Borer

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More than 100 Iowa tree experts and community leaders boarded buses Thursday morning. That's where Burlington hosted an important study session on the Emerald Ash Borer.

"This one was pruned about two years ago," said Burlington Forester Casey Chadwick, who is bracing for the worst.

"It could be just one simple branch," he said.

Burlington will likely lose more than 1,000 Ash trees in the next few years. The bill will likely top $1 million. That makes this outdoor class even more important.

"I lived for 30 years in Michigan," said Mike Krebill, Keokuk Trees Forever. "I was there when it came in, and it was devastating."

A few blocks away, they're conducting an autopsy of sorts on Ash trees. With knives in hand, they try bark peeling. It's a chance to look under the surface and find destructive larvae from the Emerald Ash Borer.

"For years, they've been seeing it on the computer. They've been seeing it on paper," said Iowa DNR's Mark Vitosh. "To actually be able to see the larvae, it gives them more sense of urgency."

This exercise is important because it will help communities to prepare for the inevitable and come up with a game plan.

Participants were able to dig out some wiggling larvae. Tiny things that result in major damage. That's why it's important to prepare now.

"I came here to hopefully get a handle on this, so we can be ready," said Nathan Unsworth, Newton Parks Department. "It's not 'if,' it's 'when' it gets to us."

A battle with the Emerald Ash Borer that's just beginning in Burlington and across Iowa.