Crews, hoping to prevent emerald ash borer from threatening the tallest ash tree in the country, found the tree reduced to about one-third of its historic height.
The National Champion black ash tree was 114 feet tall, 110 inches in diameter and had a crown of 53 feet according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The tree was nominated as a champion in 2011.
A medium-sized ash tree is normally about 50 feet tall.
The tree’s height made it susceptible to wind damage, a DNR statement said, and that appears to be what blew down the top of the tree, leaving behind a tree that is now 30 to 35 feet tall.
The former champion black ash tree is in an isolated location, on private property, near Pikes Peak State Park in Clayton County.
The damage was found Thursday, April 24, 2014 by a team that planned to apply preventative treatment against emerald ash borer to the tree. The entire state of Iowa was previously placed under quarantine for emerald ash borer. The DNR statement said there were no signs of emerald ash borer.
“It is likely the next national champion will be from another state as Iowa currently does not have a tree close to those measurements,” the DNR statement said.
The damage means that, according to the National Register of Big Trees, the only national champion big tree remaining in Iowa is a European alder in Vander Veer Park in Davenport.