City Officials Create New Urban Tree Canopy in Response to Dying Ash Trees

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — West Des Moines city officials are taking action against the emerald ash borer insect, which is killing thousands of ash trees in the city.

“It’s actually the larva of the insect that causes the problem. It gets under the bark of the tree and cuts off the supply of nutrients to the tree. And no ash tree is going to make it through this, it will kill every ash tree eventually,” West Des Moines Parks and Recreation Director Sally Ortgies said.

On Saturday, the city sold 460 native Iowan trees to West Des Moines residents during their Shade Crusade Program. Each tree had a value between $60 and $120, but residents only paid $30.

A goal of the program is to give residents diverse tree species that they might not otherwise find.

“When a disease or insect problem like the emerald ash borer comes along and takes out a whole species of tree, that’s an issue. And so, when people just start planting large numbers of any one species, then we end up with the problem we have today,” Ortgies said.

West Des Moines Parks and Recreation said now is the best time to plant trees, so if you missed the event, you can pick some up at your local nursery.

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