Ames granted $9,000 for derecho repair tree planting


Trees around Agronomy Hall experienced significant damage from the strong winds of Monday’s derecho.

Nearly 100 new trees will be seen in Ames this month to replace damage from the 2020 derecho. The Community Forestry Grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provided the city with $9,000 for this project.

Sixty volunteers, a record number, planted 51 trees Oct. 1 in neighborhoods near North Grand Mall. Volunteers were from three organizations: Trees Forever, Iowa DNR and Country Landscapes. The Ames Parks and Recreation staff planted 39 more trees Tuesday. Within the next few days, student volunteers will plant eight more.

“This area was hit particularly hard by the 2020 derecho, with several streets having only one or two remaining right-of-way trees,” City Forester Gabbi Edwards said. “Adding trees to the right-of-way will help the area recover from the derecho as well as provide shade and other environmental benefits for years to come.”

Since the derecho, Ames had three other citywide tree-planting projects. These were held in the spring and fall of 2021 and the spring of this year.

“The derecho was two years ago, but when you look at the scale of the number of trees that we lost across the community, it will likely take us a decade or more to recover from the devastation,” Edwards said.

Every spring and fall, the Iowa State Extension and Outreach team partners with the Ames Foundation to plant trees, as it doubles their budget for these projects.

Along with the grant from the DNR, an additional $9,000 was given by the Ames Foundation and Trees Forever.

“It was about $200 a tree, and that included Country Landscapes auguring the holes for us beforehand, as well as placing a bag of mulch,” Edwards said.

These trees are discounted, as they typically cost $200-$350 alone.

Along with the derecho, the amount of ash trees around Ames is also decreasing. This project helps to replace those as well.

“The invasive pest, called emerald ash borer, affects the ash trees here in Iowa,” Edwards said. “It will take mature trees in a matter of just a few years, and we’re seeing it specifically in Ames. I feel like the devastation from the emerald ash borer has been really obvious the last few years. You’re starting to be able to look around in the summertime and see a lot of large trees that have no leaves. They have a 98% mortality rate.”

Ames residents decided the locations of these new trees. Whether their neighborhood was affected by the derecho or they just wanted more trees around, they were provided.

There are a variety of tree species being planted, including oak, yellow wood, Kentucky coffee, honey locust and more.

Ames is planning to continue these projects for at least the next few years to make up for the damage.