Eastern Iowans celebrated Earth Day yesterday with tree planting projects – an important task after trees were damaged in the August derecho according to KCRG. Organizations such as GreenState Credit Union, Trees Forever, Big Grove Brewery, Quality Care and Landscapes, and the City of Iowa City gave more than a thousand seedlings and planted oak trees at Big Grove Brewery.
Over 100 volunteers in Tipton Iowa planted 50 trees around the Tipton Public Library. According to the Tipton Public Works Director Steve Nash, the derecho damaged at least 100 public trees. The Marion-based non-profit Trees Forever is running a tree adoption program in Linn County that is open from now until April 30
Cedar Rapids residents were devastated after the August derecho swept through and destroyed most of the city’s trees. But in the months following the disaster, their efforts to replant smarter and ensure that the city’s trees will return for future generations has captured national interest and become the topic of news stories across the country.
Freelance journalist Dustin Renwick took interest in the fate of Cedar Rapids’ trees shortly after the derecho hit and chose to write an article for National Geographic. In it, he highlighted personal stories from community members and local arborists and discussed both the role urban trees played in the community and how the city will replant to ensure the resiliency of its trees in the future.
Click here to read Renwick’s National Geographic article and learn more about Cedar Rapids’ fight to restore its urban forest.
Vegetation starts turning green earlier in cities than surrounding rural areas, but urban plants are less sensitive to unseasonable warmth, new Iowa State University-led research found. The authors attribute the difference to the urban “heat island” effect.
Cities typically have somewhat higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas because materials like asphalt and brick absorb heat more readily than natural landscapes. For example, New York City is about 7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than surrounding areas in summer, according to NASA’s Climate Kids site.
Researchers found this “heat island” phenomenon causes urban vegetation to perceive the start of spring and begin greening an average of six days earlier than surrounding rural plants.
As climate change progresses, however, plants in both rural and urban areas are responding to unseasonably warm temperatures by beginning growth earlier and earlier over time. Pollinators and last frosts have failed to keep up, which has damaged the early bloomers’ ability to survive and reproduce.
The study found that rural vegetation is more sensitive to early spring weather than urban vegetation, perhaps due to the urban heat island effect as well.
ISU Ph.D. student Ling Meng led the research team, which included CGRER member Yuyu Zhou, an ISU geological and atmospheric scientist, among others. The study, published this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was based on satellite images from 85 large U.S. cities from 2001 to 2014.
Zhou told the Iowa State News Service that this sort of research can help predict how plants will respond to climate change and urbanization.
This week’s On The Radio segment discusses how drought conditions in late September pushed some trees into early dormancy.
Transcript: Tree leaves in Iowa began changing colors and falling to the ground earlier than usual this year due to drought conditions.
This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.
Leaf color change is closely tied to weather conditions. During the last week of September, the U.S. Drought Portal reported that about thirty percent of Iowa was experiencing abnormally dry conditions and about twenty-five percent of the state was in a moderate drought.
Officials from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources explained that if trees do not have enough moisture, they can be pushed into dormancy earlier than usual. As a result, many leaves died and fell from trees before they bursted into autumn’s hues of red, yellow and orange this year.
In a typical year, leaves change color in northern Iowa between the last week of September and the second week of October, from the first to third weeks of October in central Iowa and from the second to fourth weeks of October in southern Iowa.
For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.
From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.
Alliant Energy’s Operation ReLeaf tree distribution program will continue this week and into October. During this time, the company provides landscape-quality trees to their customers at a significant discount. Thoughtful placement of trees can cut energy costs for homeowners by providing shade in the warmer months and wind blocks during colder months.
Customers can buys trees that typically retail for $65 to $125 for just $25 each. Residential tree distributions will be held in Buena Vista, Fayette, Lee, Linn, Lucas and Story counties this October.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources provides several resources for homeowners looking to select the appropriate tree for their yards. In one of the DNR’s publications, “Rethinking Maple: Selecting Trees For Your Yard,” officials point out that maple trees make up more than one-third of all trees in Iowa, which increases their risk for disease and pest problems. The pamphlet encourages homeowners to consider other tree species based on desired qualities such like vibrant fall color, storm resistant, salt tolerant and others.
Trees will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis at the following locations on the following dates:
Cedar Rapids will double their spending on new trees for this upcoming fiscal year. However, the city will still likely remove more trees than they plant during that time.
During 2011, the city removed 1,200 trees while adding about 500.
Part of the issue is that 30 percent of Cedar Rapids’ trees are ash trees. Many of these ash trees are being removed every year in preparation for the expected arrival of the emerald ash borer – a beetle that has killed millions of ash trees around the nation.