The Issue: Emerald Ash Borers are making their way through Iowa, moving closer to Dallas County. Emerald Ash Borers work their way into ash trees and kill them if not treated. 

Local Impact: Ash trees make up a sizable percentage of the trees in many of Dallas County's cities and many of the cities are working to plant new, non-ash trees in parks and public spaces and to treat ash trees in anticipation of the Ash Borers' arrival. 

Saturday, people all across the United States celebrated Earth Day by doing activities that benefit our home planet. In Grimes, members of the Tree Board, along with some volunteers, could be found planting several different kinds of trees at the Sports Complex.

In all, the Tree Board planted 29 trees at the Sports Complex, made up of about six different kinds of trees, including Sycamores, Coffee Trees, Hackberry Trees, Red Maples, Burr Oak and White Oak.

The trees being that were planted had a few different purposes in mind. One of the main purposes was to have shade at the Sports Complex, but one was so that they could meet the requirements for Tree City USA honors, which they received for the first time this year.

“Part of the requirements for Tree City is that you have to have an annual Arbor Day event,” said Lee Goldsmith, chairman of the Grimes Tree Board.

They chose Earth Day instead of Arbor Day as a way to find a day that works for everybody involved.

“We would still be out planting trees if it weren't for the requirement, but the requirement really is a good incentive to get the community involved and help people to understand why it's so important to have trees in our community,” Goldsmith said.

The trees would help provide shade to the soccer fields, which were in use by children and spectators while the trees were being planted. They will also provide shade to the playground next to the soccer fields.

The Tree Board and its volunteers had a sunny spring day for tree planting on Saturday.

“Today, it's beautiful weather, it's a wonderful day to do this, we're really happy to be out here as a group planting trees,” Goldsmith said. “We did want to see more community involvement, people that wanted to have a part in planting these trees.”

While many Grimes residents were busy with their kids' soccer games on that day, Goldsmith said she was happy they at least could be out there while they were planting the trees so they could see what goes into making sure the community has trees.

“I'm glad everyone can be out here, seeing that this doesn't just happen, and the city doesn't have the staff to do this on their own,” Goldsmith said. “This is something that we're doing as a volunteer tree board, coming out to get this done.”

The Grimes Tree Board meets monthly and spends a lot of time looking over new developments in Grimes and helping come up with plans for trees in those developments, as well as advising the City on plans for trees and fields questions from the public about trees.

A lot of their discussions, just like in a lot of other cities in Iowa, have been about ash trees and Emerald Ash Borers. One of the first things that the tree board did was come up with a plan for dealing with Emerald Ash Borers.

“We did go to the City with our plan and the City, I think, adopted it pretty readily and that was to treat the trees that were healthy and sizable, worth treating, and the other ones, probably to eventually replace,” Goldsmith said.

Mark Dungan, a certified arborist who is on the Grimes Tree Board, helped come up with the plan and made the recommendations. Dungan currently works for Polk County Conservation as a natural resource manager.

Dungan said they recently took inventory of all the trees on public grounds and in the parks and the one thing they noticed was that they had an “overabundance” of ash trees. Dungan said the tree plantings on Saturday were the start in replacing many of those trees and diversifying the species.

“We just want a plan so that people who are here in the future have some shade to sit on,” Dungan. “I've been here in July… you know it's not very nice. Shade's important, it's appreciated.”

Dungan said that taking inventory on the trees in the park made it easier to manage as they decided which trees to plant in the park.

“If we know what we have, it's easier to select trees, plant trees, so we don't get an overabundance of trees similar to what they did when they planted American elm, when the cities planted ash,” Dungan said. “So it's important to have species diversity.

“It's amazing how soon we forget that. A lot of trees, people purchase because they grow fast, they have nice fall color, but they forget about species diversity and we're trying to promote that with the Grimes Tree Board.”