Apr 29, 2022 - Things to Do

Celebrate Arbor Day in Des Moines by adopting an ash tree

A photo of Shane McQuillan, Des Moines' city forester.
Shane McQuillan, Des Moines' city forester. Screenshot courtesy of the city of Des Moines

Ash tree adoptions saved about 100 from being removed from public areas in Des Moines last year, Shane McQuillan, the city's forester, tells Axios.

Why it matters: Today is the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day, a celebration of trees. Adoption is one way to help improve our community's forestry program.

Catch up quick: Roughly 600 ash trees that were dying or most vulnerable to the invasive emerald ash borer beetle were culled last year.

  • The beetle has the capacity to kill all ash trees that are not chemically treated, including about 13,000 in Des Moines' public areas.
  • Treatments costs around $120 for each mature tree and the city selects the healthiest ones to extend removal timelines.
  • Des Moines launched the adoption program last year to give residents some say in which trees are granted at least a temporary reprieve from the saw.

Threat level: A tree will eventually succumb to the borer if treatment isn't reapplied every two or three years, McQuillan said.

  • There's no onus for residents to forever treat a tree but, if adoption funding ends, the tree will eventually be removed, McQuillan said.

By the numbers: Des Moines will spend about $4.6 million over the next five years for its emerald ash borer response plan.

  • Arbor Masters recently adopted the roughly 140 ash trees along much of the downtown sections of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.

How to adopt a tree...

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