Students work to replace trees damaged by disease, flooding
CEDAR FALLS (AP) — A group of University of Northern Iowa students is helping bring thousands of free saplings to Cedar Falls to help the city replace trees lost to disease or flooding.
The group, UNI Hardwoods, recently transported 6,500 oak tree saplings from a nursery in East Moline, Ill., the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported. More than 100 student volunteers will plant some of them on April 12 at a new nursery in the North Cedar neighborhood.
"The timing is just really perfect," said Mark Ripplinger, the city's director of human and leisure services.
The saplings will replace trees infected by the emerald ash borer, an insect that gradually destroys ash trees. In Cedar Falls, about 2,000 trees will be uprooted because of the insect. The saplings will also replace trees destroyed by historic flooding in 2008.
Grant funding in the past has covered the annual expense of removing and replacing about 100 trees. But city officials say that funding has dwindled.
"Up until the emerald ash borer arrived, we were able to take care of replacements through those grants," Ripplinger said.
The saplings will mature for six to eight years before they're either moved or kept in place to reforest the area.
Living Lands and Waters, a conservation group, donated the saplings to UNI Hardwoods. A nursery in St. Louis produced the oak saplings.
"We have a mission to restore and preserve our nation's watersheds," said Ashley Stover, a project coordinator for Living Lands and Waters. "Part of that is to increase diversity within the hardwood species of trees along shorelines, riverbanks and within the community to prevent soil erosion, runoff and provide food and shelter for wildlife."