Iowa City In Focus: Treatment for the Emerald Ash Borer


Finding ways to protect our urban forest from
an invasive insect. Police work to address racial biases and raise
the bar of service. “We’re doing everything we can do to get
better at what we do.” And finally, future vendors take over the
Iowa City Farmers Market. And it all starts right now, on this edition
of Iowa City In Focus. A problematic pest that has been damaging
and killing ash trees across the country is growing a presence here in Iowa City. Toni Ugolini shows you how the forestry department
is addressing this insect issue. Iowa City’s ash trees are under attack. “The health of the trees are constantly
changing from one season to the next.” This big problem is caused by this tiny pest “Well, the Emerald Ash Borer is small, little
metallic green beetle. And would fit on maybe the size of a dime,
so it’s fairly small.” Also known as EAB, this invasive beetle first
made its was to the US in 2002. Emerald Ash Borer has now been found in 31
states, including Iowa. Iowa City had its first confirmed case in
2016, and the number of infested trees has been increasing. “We definitely see localized areas of affected
ash trees more in the older town, northern neighborhoods where we have the older growth
ash trees.” In late May and June, the adult beetles will
lay their eggs on the bark of the tree. That’s where the trouble begins. “And the larvae will slowly go underneath
the bark and they form tunnels under to bark, these serpentine tunnels. And what the tunnels do is really prevent
water from moving up into the tree.” Without those nutrients, leaves and branches
begin dying at a fairly rapid rate. In 2018, the City had to cut down around 147
infested ash trees that were located on City property in the right of way. But with more than 3,000 ash trees remaining,
the City’s Parks and Recreation Department is taking steps to stop the spread of EAB. “Thankfully, last budget cycle City Council
approved adding funds to our operating budget to allow us to start a treatment program. And we’ve partnered with TruGreen for this
spring of 2019 to initiate that program.” Through citizen requests and under the direction
of City Council, the plan is to strategically select trees to inject with insecticide. “So we are drilling little holes into the
tree and we put a plug in there. And then we have a needle that goes in there
and injects it into the tree, and it’s taken up by the tree and spread throughout the entire
tree and it’s done a very nice job in keeping these trees alive.” The contract calls for the treatment of over
four-hundred trees. A number of factors are considered to identify
which trees should be treated. First, are they infested? If so, how far along is the damage? “By looking at the upper canopy, so the
crown of the tree, the industry standard really is to treat trees that have two-thirds or
more live canopy left.” Other factors include the age and life expectancy
of the tree, as well as the risk it may pose to the public. Dead limbs over sidewalks, streets, or power
lines are a major concern. The injections can prevent infestation on
treated trees, but it cannot reverse any damage that’s already been done. “We’re hopeful that we will be able to
treat all viable ash trees that don’t need removal.” While the Emerald Ash Borer has made its mark
in Iowa City, we are still early enough to preserve some of the ash tree population. “I cover a fairly large area in the Midwest
and we have certain cities where they’ve lost almost all of their ash trees. Here, it’s not as bad and it’s just starting
so now is the time when you can really do something preventative to help out and prevent
these trees from losing them.” Other steps have also been taken in response
to the EAB outbreak. The City stopped planting ash trees nearly
15 years ago in anticipation of the beetles arrival. Our forestry division has also been replanting
a diverse mix of tree species at nearly twice the rate as trees that have been removed. These steps, along with the execution of treatment
against the Emerald Ash Borer, will help create a resilient urban forest that can better persevere
any future tree disease or pests. Racial disparity in traffic stops has long
been a problem in our county. Many studies have been done throughout the
United States that show minorities are being pulled over and cited far more frequently
than whites. Iowa City Police have spent the past two decades
working on the issue, and the latest data shows some promising results. “The most important thing for our community
is that we’re fair and consistent, and we treat everybody equally.” Across the map minorities are more likely
to be pulled over, ticketed, and fined, including here in Iowa City. “Since we began measuring this we’ve always
had disproportionality, and that’s not just a problem here but it’s a nationwide problem.” In order to tackle that problem, the Iowa
City Police Department began tracking its traffic enforcement data back in 1999. “Where the stop is, what the stop was for,
the makeup of the driver: male, female, the race, the ethnicity, And we keep track of
all of that, including whether or not there was items on the backside such as citations,
and searches, and what was found.” In 2006, Dr. Christopher Barnum, the Director
of the Criminal Justice program at St. Ambrose University, formed a partnership with ICPD
to help track and analyze traffic stops. “Dr. Barnum wanted to come up with a different
way to determine how we were doing in our traffic stops, particularly in the area of
disproportionality with minorities.” To evaluate traffic stop demographics the
research team worked to create a driver-population benchmark from roadside observations and census
data. Comparing that benchmark to the traffic stop
data, initial results showed a sizable amount of disparity. “Our data has showed that you’re twice
as likely to be stopped if you’re a minority driver, a person of color, and ticketed and
have your car searched.” By continuing to track the data and using
it to address these issues, the 2018 study results show some promising improvements. “Where we’ve had success in the last couple years we are trending down now in all those categories. To us that equals success with more work to do.” The PD is addressing the issue through a three
prong approach, starting with officer training. “We make sure that the officers are constantly
exposed to training in the areas of implicit bias, racial profiling, pretextual stops,
bias based policing, procedural justice. All of that is very important to make sure
that they are well trained in dealing with this problem.” Another way is through community outreach
and building partnerships with neighborhood organizations to build trust. “And then the last one is deployment of
resources. We’re trying to disconnect the race-crime
association that often occurs out there. But also deploy our resources out there not
by neighborhood but by crime itself. And by dealing with crime and not entire neighborhoods,
particularly those of color, means everything for our community.” The 2018 results confirmed that the levels
of  disproportionality in stops and outcomes were trending lower. There’s no doubt there is still a long way
to go, but Chief Matherly likes the direction the department is heading. “Watching year after year us get better
at that, has sent a strong message to the community that we are doing something about
this problem.” Every Wednesday and Saturday the Chauncey
Swan Ramp is bustling with people enjoying fresh produce and homemade goods. But one special day each year, the Farmers
Market is taken over by future vendors in the making. Whether they’re selling homemade crafts. “Bracelets” “Bath bombs and soap.” Tasty treats. “Mini loaves 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 just
decided to do slime.” And reap the rewards of their hard work. “I like getting money!” “The money!” We hope you’ll come out to support these
future market vendors. “It’s fun! I definitely want to do this more often.” Spread your wings for the fourth annual Iowa
City Monarch Festival. Join us on Sunday, August 25th, from 10 a.m.
to noon at the Iowa City Municipal Airport. The event is being held as part of the Iowa
City Optimist Club’s Annual Pancake Breakfast. All are invited to attend the free festival
where you can view Monarchs in various lifecycles, along with a collection of bees and other
pollinators. The event will feature a variety of craft
activities, a photo booth, snacks, a variety of nature and nonprofit exhibits, the Iowa
City Public Library Bookmobile, as well as several handouts and free gifts. Come learn from experts about how you can
help make our community an environment that allows Monarchs to thrive. Learn more by visiting icgov.org/ICMonarchs. Thanks for watching this episode of Iowa City
In Focus. We’ll be back soon with more stories on the people, projects and events of our great
community.