- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Cedar Rapids is conducting an inventory of its street-side trees in order to evaluate the plants’ health.

The city hired California-based ArborPro to assess the trees for $189,000, KCRG-TV (http://bit.ly/1WvFQN6 ) reported. The company started working in April and is expected to finish in October.

City arborist Todd Fagan says knowing how diverse its urban canopy is and the population numbers of its different species will allow the city to lay out a more exact plan for when and how it’ll remove ash trees, which are currently threatened by the emerald ash borer.

“We didn’t know how many we had, we didn’t know what condition they were in, we didn’t know where they were distributed, we didn’t know how big they were,” Fagan said.

He estimates the amount of trees to be between 50,000 and 70,000. He said those who have surveyed 13,000 of the city’s trees so far have told him that their condition is better than expected.

Urban forester Bill Brown is one of three ArborPro employees evaluating the city’s trees. Brown said some in the community wonder what he’s doing while he’s on the job.

“Especially in areas where there aren’t sidewalks, people wonder why you’re in their front yard,” Brown said. “They may not know it’s part of the city right-of-way, they may have planted that tree themselves 15 years ago.”

He said evaluating the trees is rewarding.

“I like working with trees, I like learning more about trees,” Brown said. “It’s good to also help the community out by providing a service to the city.”

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Information from: KCRG-TV, http://www.kcrg.com

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