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Fighting Tree Disease in Rural Communities

ROBINS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) As Cedar Rapids still battles through storm damage clean up, rural communities are also trying to clear debris, but with fewer resources.

On top of that, those communities are trying to make sure they dont spread insects and disease that can kill trees from one part of the state to another.

The huge pile of tree debris in a Robins park gives passersby an idea of what the tree damage has been like over the past few weeks in town. The even bigger pile of wood chips next to it is a great example of how to safely turn that debris into something useful.

Theres nothing sneaky about the damage that big trees can cause except for what might hitch a ride when the lumber is cut up.

"We have so many different potential diseases and insects that can move through this kind of material, anything we can do to keep it local is going to reduce any potential spread, said Iowa DNR District Forester Mark Vitosh.

In Robins, a shredder they call the beast not only make confetti from what used to be solid tree trunks but it shreds the chance of spreading any kind of disease in this lumber to a new community.

"There's a concern that we might be moving that pest into areas where we don't have that pest yet, said Vitosh.

"I think we're minimizing any cross county contamination that might otherwise happen, said Robins Mayor Chuck Hinz.

Of course the beast doesnt work alone.

Chuck says the trees are here because Robins is picking them up off residents curbs, free of charge.

"We value the community and the services that we provide to our citizens so we thought it was important to do that, said Hinz.

Where local government isnt able to step in, the county does.

"Some of the damage that property owners were seeing was beyond the typical capabilities of what they can clean up, said Linn County Secondary Roads Operations Superintendent Ben Merta.
Bens crews will be working their way through Monroe Township, including Toddville, next week, making sure that just because fewer people live out here, they arent forgotten.

"We're asking them to stack it at the right of way line, and we'll pick it up from there, said Merta.

The Emerald Ash Borer still hasnt been spotted in Linn County, but its still a good idea to not move firewood over county lines. The entire state is under quarantine, making it illegal to move firewood over state lines.

If you have more questions about how to dispose of tree debris, you can call 319-398-5163.
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