DES MOINES, Iowa — A group of state and local officials planted a tree on the grounds of the Iowa State Capitol on Friday, to celebrate the 150th Arbor Day.

The City of Des Moines lost at least 600-700 trees in the derecho, and another 8,000 were lost to the Emerald Ash Boer.  Now the state DNR is challenging Des Moines to increase its tree canopy by three percent. The city can plant 500 to 700 trees per year, the city has a budget of $200,000 a year to replant, and prune trees.

The DNR has challenged Des Moines to increase its tree canopy by three percent by 2045. In order to meet the DNR goal of around 3,800 trees per year.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do we got derecho‘s, we got a lot of other stuff coming through,” said Mayor Frank Cownie at the Arbor Day celebration. “We have to not only plant the new ones but replace the old ones and get are getting damaged, by these ever more frequent and severe storms.”

“We all know about the significant weather events which have changed our tree canopy,” said Kayla Lyon, Director of the Iowa DNR. “There is a renewed focus on the importance of trees in our neighborhoods, and rural areas, in forests. At the state forest nursery in Ames, the Department of Natural Resources raises and sells native seedling  trees.”

“Actually the City of Des Moines gives away about 10,000 trees every year thanks to the partnership with the Iowa State Nursery, so that’s coming up May 14th,” said Shane McQuillen, Des Moines City Forester.

People can sign up for five free trees to be given away at River Place on May 14th.

April 29th is the last day to signup for Des Moines Tiny Trees