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Iowa City In Focus: Emerald Ash Borer Response Plan

Iowa City In Focus: Emerald Ash Borer Response Plan

“The emerald ash borer is very invasive.” Learn how the city is combating this harmful
beetle. Discover how you can ease the burden of raking
with this City service. Plus, heavy rain causes high waters. Learn how mitigation efforts did against the
rising river. And, learn how putting these things down the
toilet can cause a big and costly problem. Finally, the Old Capitol is transformed into
a work of art “It’s art and expressions. Ah, it’s beautiful.” And it all starts right now, on this edition
of Iowa City In Focus. A tiny pest, no bigger than a grain of rice,
is wreaking havoc on urban forests across all over the US. Iowa City is no exception, and the forestry division has
working to combat the emerald ash borer through a series of different steps. “Once it’s there it’s probably been
there for four to six years. And it’s already got a footprint.” “Unfortunately the spread of emerald ash
borer is seemingly inevitable and very quick.” “We can lose fifty to hundreds and hundreds
of trees a year.” Let’s start with how it got here. The Emerald ash borer, or EAB, is an exotice
beetle native to Asia. It was first discovered in the US in 2002
near Detroit, Michigan. Experts believe the beetle most likely arrived
on solid wood packing material from a cargo ship or airplane. Since then it has spread to more than 33 states,
including Iowa. It was first detected in the hawkeye state
in 2010. Currently 65 of Iowa’s 99 counties have
a confirmed infestation. And according to DNR officials, it will continue
to spread until it’s in all 99 counties. “It’s just a matter of time.” It’s not that the beetle itself travels
great distances. Rather, it hitchhikes. “It could move through firewood, it could
jump on trucks, trains, all kinds of different things. So humans, we are the ones that are actually
moving it. Cause it only flies probably one mile to
three miles a year.” So why is the City just now talking about
this? Well, we’re not. “City forestry staff stopped planting ash
trees back in 2004, once we learned about this beetle.” The department stopped planting ash trees
nearly 15 years ago, but to this day it’s still the second most common tree in Iowa
City. And as expected, the beetle eventually surfaced
here. In 2014 an adult beetle was found on the property
of a private residence. There were no signs of feeding or reproduction
though, so it wasn’t declared an official infestation. That didn’t happen until two years later
in 2016, when it was confirmed in a group of ash trees on the University of Iowa campus. “Since that time we have been seeing more
ash trees that are infested and we’ve been seeing signs and symptoms of infestation.” So how can such a little beetle cause such
a big problem? “It’s small but quite destructive.” The real problem isn’t caused by the adult
beetles, but rather during its life cycle. The eggs are laid on the outside of the bark
where they hatch. The young larvae then burrows into underneath
the bark, and that’s where the invasive bug begins causing problems. “It feeds on the vascular system of the
tree and disrupts the transpiration of nutrients.” Without the ability to properly transport
water and nutrients to its limbs, the tree begins to die off. “So if you can think of it as tiny little
holes being poked into your veins and not being able to get blood and oxygen to your
limbs.” Take this ash for example. There pictures were taken by our forestry
staff while checking out a tree on Davenport Street that showed signs of an infestation. It’s rare to actually witness the beetle
exiting a tree like this, but it leaves a distinct mark that is easy to recognize. “There was a beetle inside of there. It emerged as an adult. And the shape of the adults head makes that
classic D shape on the outside of the bark.” These marks aren’t nearly as graphic as
what has taken place under the tree’s protective layer. “When we peel back the bark and when we
see these S shaped or serpentine galleries. That’s basically where we see the larvae
feeding on the inner canbiene layer of the tree.” It’s estimated that the beetle first entered
our community about five years ago, which would explain why not many trees have died
off yet. “And there really isn’t much loss at all
because it takes a pretty good sized population to really start losing trees quickly.” But year after year the beetle continues to
reproduce and grow in numbers, causing more and more issues. “We say it’s just starting here, but it’s
more than just starting. If we got trees already dying, we’re in
the 5 – 10 year range now.” “In the next five or so years we are going
to see some pretty massive death. So if the City doesn’t react, they could
end up with hundreds and hundreds of dead trees all over the place. So they have to actively stay on top of it.” So the City is using its recently completed
database to check on high risk trees. From the ground this ash doesn’t look to
bare, but an eagle eye view provides a different picture. “A thinning of the crown structure or the
upper canopy of a tree. And it’s looking like it’s defoliated
or doesn’t have a lot of leaves. That is one sign and symptom.” And to make up for the lack of growth up top,
the tree will try to compensate. “Epicormic growth or offshoots of exponential
growth at the kind of midlevel of the tree. And that really tells us that something is
really stressing out the tree and its trying to grow as much leaves as it can to stay alive
and make photosynthetic material to stay alive.” When staff identify a tree with emerald ash
borer, they are taking no risks. “We check those to confirm if they are infested
and if they are then we do remove those.” One might wonder why not wait until the trees
completely die off before taking them down. “When they are completely dead, the thing
with ash is that it’s a very brittle wood. And once they die they can become a risk pretty
quickly.” “We look at safety first and foremost. And so it becomes a public safety hazard when
those trees are still in the air with large limbs that are dead.” Another option the City is looking into treating
trees before they are infested. “There are chemical treatment options to
potentially preserve healthy ash trees.” “So they can kind of use that as a stop
gap to kind of slow the loss.” But this kind of treatment cannot reverse
any damage that’s already been done. “The common misconception is that chemically
treating these trees will help grow back dead material or dead branches. That is not the case.” The last step the city is taking may be the
most important. Replanting at nearly twice the rate as trees are being removed, the City is taking steps towards a healthy future. “Our goal is to replant the urban forest
with a more diverse mix of tree species so it’s more resilient when the next tree pest
comes along.” You may be wondering, what can I do to help? As we mentioned, the spread of EAB is most
likely caused by humans. Firewood is believed to be the most common
way this beetle gets around. So remember. “Burn it where you buy it.” Keep an eye on the health of ash trees on
your property. Watch for the signs of the emerald ash borer,
and get a professional opinion if you hav any concerns. And remember that this infestation affects
us all. People like Mark and Zac got into this business
to protect our natural resources, not harm them. “What motivates me and why I made the decision
to make this my profession is for my love of trees. I’ve spent half my life trying to learn
about, understand, and better care for trees.” But faced with the spread of the EAB, reality
can be a tough pill to swallow. “If we already have the borer, we’re already
starting to see loss. The ball is already rolling, so they are going
to continue to lose trees.” By being vigilant and planning for the future,
we hope to face this issue head on and ensure a stable future for our urban forest. “You know we have the great responsibility
and honor of being able to care for our trees and I love trees, and so does this community. And they are a great resource, and that’s
why our work is important.” Here are some collection tips that can help
our customers participate more easily at the curb, as well as help our staff collect materials
more efficiently. It’s very important to make sure that there’s
proper spacing between your carts at the curb and we recommend you maintain about four feet
between carts. The proper spacing is important between carts
to make sure that our trucks automated arm can actually grab on to the cart and properly
up to get into the truck. We recommend that our customers do not overfill
their carts or pack them too tightly. The test is can you close your lid completely. If not, it’s too full. If your cart is packed too tightly then that
can make it so your materials do not properly fall out of your cart into the truck and that
they’re not properly emptied on your curbside recycling day. If you have additional bags of trash we’re
happy to accommodate that. You can purchase additional refuse stickers at a few different places. We sell them at City Hall, participating grocery
stores, as well as Ace Hardware. Once you’ve purchased the sticker, place the
sticker on additional bags of trash and set them directly next to your cart on your curbside
pickup day. For larger items that do not fit in your cart
such as appliances, mattresses, or other large furniture items, these items can be picked
up at the curb, but we do require an appointment. To make an appointment you can call our resource
management mainline and we’ll get you all set up. The city has enacted a cardboard ban at the
landfill, which means that you can no longer place cardboard in your regular trash, it
does need to be recycled. You can recycle cardboard through your regular
curbside collection bin or you can take it to any recycling drop-off site in Iowa City. By following these simple tips, you can help
our Iowa City community reduce waste, as well as help our staff collect your organics, recycling,
and trash every week. While it’s a beautiful time of the year,
fall also marks when trees begin to drop leaves. The City runs a program that makes it easier
for you to keep up with the constant task of raking. The leaf vacuum program offers a convenient,
efficient way to deal with fall foliage. “The purpose behind our leaf vacuum program
is to allow our residents to rake the leafs back of the curb, and then we would pick them
up and dispose of them. That way they do not have to rake them into
a yardie or a bag.” Here’s how it works. The City is broken up into seven zones. Leaf vacuuming begins on Monday, October 15th
in zones 6 and 7. And will proceed in numerical order, moving
to zone 1 after 7 is completed. The process will repeat until the program
ends, Wednesday, November 21st. There are several ways that you can follow
along with the schedule. “You can follow our leaf vacuum schedule by
looking on the website, signing up for e-subscription, and also calling our streets division.” The City also posts the schedule on our Facebook,
Twitter, and Nextdoor accounts. While following the schedule is encouraged,
it’s also a good idea to be proactive. “It is important that you have your leaf piles
prepared before we get there. The protocol would be don’t wait, rake. Get it to the back of the curb so that we
can get it picked up.” When preparing your leaves for collection, there are some things to keep in mind. “You do not want to pile leaves further than
five foot off the backside of the curb. Or hoses that we use do not reach that far.” At the same time, don’t rake leaves into the
streets, as they may be washed into the storm sewer and cause flooding. The minimum size for one pile should be the
equivalent of one paper yard waste bag. “Make sure that they are in sizable piles. Small piles slow our crews down.” These machines are designed to pick up leaves,
so make sure that that’s the only thing in your piles. “You do not want to have in miscellaneous
objects such as larger branches or anything else that you might have in there.” And remember, if the hose can’t reach the
leaves, they won’t get vacuumed. So make sure to keep the piles in open areas. “You also do not want to pile the leaves around
mailboxes or signs.” If you use on-street parking, you’ll want
to be mindful of the leaf vacuum schedule. Where calendar parking is enforced, leaf vacuuming
will occur on the side without parking. But even if there are no parking restrictions,
be considerate of your neighbors and the construction crews. “It is also important for you to be aware
of your surroundings. If there are leaves piled up at the edge of
curb, it’s important that you don’t park there so that can collect those leaves.” At the very least, parking in front of a pile
will slow crews down. And worst case scenario, it will prevent the
equipment from reaching the leaves. If you run into issues the City can help by
placing signs in your neighborhood. “If you live on a congested street where there
is a lot of parking, please feel free to call the streets division. We’d be happy to post a no parking sign so
that we can collect your leaves.” By following along with the schedule and preparing
your leaves in advance, you should be able to take advantage of this great program.” For more information head to icgov.org/leafvacuum. We appreciate your help making this program
a success. Need a ride? If you’re considering using a taxi or ride
sharing service, here are some tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable journey. Know who your driver will be and what car
they’ll be driving. Wait indoors until your driver arrives. Check that you’ve got the right car and
be sure your driver confirms your name before you get in. Also, it’s a good idea to be sure that the
child safety lock is not engaged, so you aren’t dependent on the driver to get out. Ride in the back seat. This allows you to exit the vehicle on either
side and creates a more comfortable environment for both you and the driver. And don’t forget to buckle up! Be aware of your surroundings during your
ride. Follow along using your own GPS to be certain
your driver is taking you where you want to go. You can also share your route and expected
time of arrival with a friend or family member so someone knows where you’re supposed to
be. Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel safe, get out – or don’t
get in in the first place. Finally, be kind and respectful. Respect the driver’s vehicle and maintain
appropriate behavior. You also have the right to be treated professionally
and courteously by your driver. Safe Travels! Being properly prepared when disaster strikes
requires comprehensive collaboration, clear communication, and effective leadership. Local emergency responders were put to the
test with fall flooding, which provided an opportunity to put their training into action
while evaluating recently completed mitigation efforts. A big part of emergency management is being
prepared for anything. “Part of that plan for ‘what ifs’ involves
floods because we are impacted so frequently by them.” And Johnson County responders know how quickly
a flood situation can escalate. “And it just so happens that on the anniversary
of the ‘08 floods we are being tested again by mother nature.” And when mother nature decided to dump several
inches of rain onto the already saturated soil, area responders jumped into action. “Look at what the community members are
going to need from us from an assistance standpoint.” The first step to getting a plan together
is looking at the science. After the 2008 floods, the Iowa Flood Center,
or IFC, was created to allow for a more local approach to hydraulic data. “We were very frustrated that we couldn’t
help, so when the legislatures recognized that we have some expertise that is relevant
to the safety of the people in the state they put us to work. And we went to work.” Operating as part of the University of Iowa’s
College of Engineering, the IFC main goal is to help Iowans understand flood risks and
make better decisions in the face of an emergency. To do that the organization operates 250 bridge
sensors to measure stream height, and creates flood prediction maps to share with the public. The need for that kind of localized technology
is highlight by the shocking number of major flood events our state has seen in the past
30 years. “We had nearly 1,000 presidential disaster
declarations due to flooding. So that is a staggering number.” The numbers the IFC was predicting is what
prompted the opening of the Emergency Center. Operations This was done to gather more than 30 local,
state, and federal agencies to get on the same page. “To get them on point, to get everyone focused
on the problem at hand, to share information so we have a common operating picture.” And while both the federal and state agencies
play a role, the action items are going to be on a more local level. “So whether it’s Iowa City, Coralville,
Johnson County, North Liberty, the coordination that has to go in has to start at home first.” That includes communicating road or park closures
to the public, details on sandbagging sites, and, in more serious situations, evacuation
information. Fortunately, this time around residents were
spared having to leave their homes behind, thanks to a much needed break in the rain. “The river stayed lower than what was expected.” And while things could have been worse, it
was a good opportunity to test flood prevention efforts our communities have put in place. “We invested this money on mitigation. What projects worked well? How did the design plans go? And where are our weaknesses.” One of the biggest steps taken is the Gateway
Project, a more than $40 million dollar effort to reduce flooding at Iowa City’s busiest
entrance. The plan raised Dubuque Street ten feet, which
was known as a problem area for flooding along the Iowa River. Crews also replaced and raised Park Road Bridge,
which was also flooded during the big 2008 event. If water levels were this high three years
ago, Dubuque Street would have been inundated with water. “If that would have happened in 2014, the
Emergency Operations Center would have been active for days. If the Gateway Project had not have been there
we would have had to close Dubuque Street, we would have already evacuated Mayflower
Hall.” And this was the first time the nearly completed
project was put to the test. “To have it function the way you wanted
it to function during this event is definitely gratifying.” Another effort was to move Iowa City’s wastewater
treatment plant and turn space into a wetland that can act as
runoff for Ralston Creek. “We were also able to consolidate our wastewater
plant and we have a wonderful park at Riverfront Crossings Park now that is functioning very
well from a mitigation standpoint also. It’s created some area for backwater on
the Ralston Creek.” And it’s these type of efforts that can
make a lasting impact to help reduce the impact of future flooding. “So it would have been much, much different
had the mitigation projects not been completed in Iowa City, in Coralville, and buyouts not
have happened in the county.” Whether they’re selling homemade crafts. “Bracelets” “Bath bombs and soap” Tasty Treats “Mini loafs of banana bread.” “Mixed berry aqua Fresca.” Or both. “Slime, baked goods, and paintings” “We are selling hats.”
“Raspberries and cucumbers.” Kids Day at the market is all about sharing your talents. “I sell bracelets and cards. It’s something that I’m good at and I think it would sell.” These young vendors work to market their goods. “It has to be really showy. Like I tie ribbons around the banana bread.” And tap into creative outlets. “I have had a passion for making pottery for a while. I actually use my grandmother’s doilies. One, I get to bring kind of my grandma’s memory back, and it’s kind of an artistic channel.” From creating a business plan to pricing goods, the kids get a feel for the business world. “It’s a good learning experience because in real life a lot of people are going to have to sell things.” It’s a chance to work together. “We both like slime a lot, so then we both decided to do slime.” And reap the rewards of their hard work. “I like getting money.” “The money!” We hope you enjoyed this year’s event, but if you missed it these future market vendors will be back again next fall. “It’s fun. I definitely want to do this more often.” One of the City’s dirties jobs happens right
here at the wastewater treatment plant. And crews here are dealing with a growing
problem, that has to do with what people are flushing down the toilet. I know it’s taboo, but we’re going to
have to talk toilets to address a problem happening in Iowa City. Flushable wipes, personal wipes, intimate
cleansing cloths: call them what you’d like. To Tim Wilkey, they are a pain in the butt. “Just remember that anything you flush down
the toilet ends up at the wastewater treatment plant.” I know what you’re thinking. It says flushable right on the box! Well, they do go down the toilet. But that’s where the trouble begins. “Flushable wipes a lot of times are bonded
by synthetic agents, typically polyester. This polyester fibers does not break down
in the sewers.” These synthetic, plastic based products don’t
break down the same way an organic material material, such as toilet paper. Let’s head to the lab to learn more. For this experiment, we will put three of
the leading brands of flushable wipes, as well as toilet paper, into bins of water
to see how they disintegrate. We’ll let the magnetic stir sticks do their
thing, and we’ll check back in a bit. The City attempts to catch unwanted materials that come through the sewer during a couple of different steps. Before we get too far, I should warn viewers
that images from here on out may get well gross. “It’s a dirty job.” The first line of the defense are the 17 lift
stations spread out across the City. These use large baskets to collect materials
that flow through the 300 miles of sanitary sewer pipes in Iowa City. “What the basket does, it collects floatable
material that’s in the waste stream coming from the sewer system that would not necessarily
be biodegradable within the treatment plant.” Twice a week these baskets are emptied in
an effort to keep items like wipes from causing problems. “If it’s allowed to go downstream it has
the potential to cause blockages within the collection system itself and could plug up
the pumps as well.” And that could lead to back ups in your home,
which nobody wants. “Ew, yuck.” Let’s all take a moment to thank Josh for
his work. But it doesn’t stop there. “So we don’t always end up catching everything
in the baskets.” What fails to get gathered at the fill station
flows here, the City’s wastewater treatment plant. Nearly 10 million gallons of wastewater is
processed here each day. The water is run through a screen designed
to capture the remaining solid materials. “Floatable material gets caught on the screen,
then it gets caught on a track system. It comes down and grabs the material, pulls
it up to the top, and then dumps it into a hopper.” I wonder what the most common material collected
is? “I’d say the bulk of it is flushable wipes.” At this point you may be saying, so what! That’s what the wastewater treatment plant
is for. The problem is, you and I are the ones footing
the bill. “There’s increased maintenance costs because
of the flushable wipes.” “That is tax dollars.” Not only does that mean more work to be done
by the employees at the treatment plant, but costly breakdowns can also occur. “If it gets through the screens and get
into the system, there is opportunity for it to get into a pump. Then the pump can overheat causing overheat,
causing damage to the bearings and to the pump itself.” Let’s go back to the lab for the results
of our experiment. After an hour in water, the toilet paper is
completely diluted. The “flushable” wipes on the other hand,
are either still in big chunks or entirely intact. So remember, just because they go down doesn’t
mean they break down. “They just don’t break down as they’re
advertised. Yeah, you can flush them down the toilet,
but they usually end up in a basket. They usually end up at the treatment plant
where we end up having to screen them out.” So if you can’t give up your flushable wipes,
toss them in the trash to save us all a lot of trouble and tax dollars. And there is no buts about it, sticking with
the organic stuff is the best option. “As it is, toilet paper is the only material
which will flush and will break down in the collection system.” Picking the correct bike for your needs is extremely important. There are many different styles to choose from, so let’s look at some of the most common. Road bicycles are designed for smooth pavement. These are great for commuting to work or long distance recreational riding. As the name would suggest, mountain bikes are designed for riding rough off-road trails. These are mostly designed for recreational use, though they can be used for commuting as well. One of the fastest growing trends in cycling is the eBike, or electric bike. Simply put, an ebike is an electric pedal-assisted bicycle. These are adjustable so that the rider can choose how much assistance he or she gets from the motor. Recumbent bikes continue to grow in popularity. These feature a long, low design with supportive seat and backrest. They can come in a two-wheel and three-wheel design, and offer one of the most comfortable options. Recumbents are more difficult to get up hills, so you’ll want to consider your route. Adult trikes are perfect for people who may have balance issues or other special needs. They are safer to ride for those who still want to get around under their own power. Finding the correct bicycle is one of the most important parts of safe riding, so make sure to do your research, ask questions, and take a test ride to find the right bike for you. Built in 1840, the Old Capitol Building
is central to our states history. It was the site where the Iowa constitution
was crafted, and where the first governor of our state was inaugurated. For those very reason, this building and our
city were chosen to represent our state during a unique art display that is making its way
across the country. “People have time to look at the static
light or projections and to think about the history and the future.” Gerry Hofstetter is described as an international
light artist. That’s a title he, well, doesn’t really
like. “People are saying I’m a light artist. I’m just Gerry. I’m using light and colors; Light is hope
and colors are joy of life.” Hailing from Switzerland, Gerry’s been all
around the world to showcase his art. He and his team have projects images onto
national monuments, historic buildings, even icebergs. His current project is a tour of the United
States. “You have 50 states, and it’s 380 times
larger than Switzerland. So it takes me about three and a half years
to do all these things.” That means one location per stop. “Each state is elected one monument and
I’m bringing the history of the monument outside on the building.” Between our rich history and being home of
the University of Iowa, Gerry knew Iowa City was the place to bring his light art tour. “And Iowa City, the Old Capitol, immediately
took my attraction.” And being selected was a real treat for those
who got to experience the show. “I think it’s really neat how out of all
the buildings he choose he choose the Old Capitol.” “Iowa City, the original capitol of Iowa,
so it’s just everything here just says Iowa. You know, the downtown area here is one of
the best, I would say, in the entire state. So it’s really cool to see the Old Capitol
highlighted like this.” Being a UNESCO City of Literature also gave
Iowa City a tie to Switzerland. “Intellectual, creativity, reading, thinking. That’s also what our country is doing. That’s why I selected this Old Capitol Building
in Iowa City.” “We’re all about the arts and the culture
and so bringing the art here, and bringing it so fresh, so live, in your face that’s
really what we’re all about. There’s so many creators and storytellers.” The images displayed reflected our ties to
art, showcased history, and provided a long lasting impact. “This gives the audience and the spectators
such a peaceful feeling for a moment. And then they go home, the next day they come
back passing these monuments and they say ‘that’s right, from here we belong.” “I think it’s really cool how you can
change the Old Capitol into a different building.” And for one evening it truly did transform
the building, leaving each spectator with a favorite moment. “I saw quite a few highlights from around
Iowa City, which is kind of cool. I actually liked the one they had across the
bridge with the power plant.” “Just now they did Frankenstein, and it’s
the 100th anniversary of the Frankenstein book. So, yeah, that’s pretty cool.” “The animal. The animal?” And even though the display only lasted an
hour, those memories will return each time they pass the Old Capitol. “And they will just get that feeling, wow!” “Bringing that to Iowa City and knowing
that Iowa City is on the map and that they wanted to share this whole experience with
Iowa City, it’s truly amazing.” As Gerry moves on to another state, he’s
taking with him an expanded vocabulary. “I learned a nice word today. Iowa nice, is that correct? Iowa nice. You are Iowa nice, I am Gerry nice.” Next time on Iowa City In Focus, we take a
final trip on the City Park Rides, and look forward to exciting new options for the future
of the park. Thanks for watching our show. We hope you’ll join us again next time for
another exciting episode of Iowa City In Focus.

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