The main subject of trees for Sutherland Council | News

SUTHERLAND—The spring season brought several branching issues for Sutherland City Council, including the planting and protection of tees in town.

The board began at its Monday April 4 meeting with an update from the Sutherland Economic Development Board on a grant it received from MidAmerican Energy.

“It happens,” said Sharon Flinders, chair of the board.

Sutherland was one of 55 municipalities in Iowa to receive the company’s Trees Please grant. Other winners nearby include Sheldon and Rock Valley.

MidAmerican distributed $1,000 to Sutherland, which was matched by approval at an initial town council meeting.

Plan A for the trees is for them to be a windbreak on the Williams property, although Flinders said that hasn’t been done yet and the council has until autumn to finish planting the seeds .

“We are in a waiting pattern,” she said. “We have to wait until we know for sure where we can plant them.”

The city has cobbled together the Williams property — a residential lot on the northeast side of town — for more than a year. Eventually, it is meant to be the site of several new homes to help with the housing shortage in the small town.

emerald ash borer

Another persistent problem is the emerald ash borer, a migrating beetle that kills trees. Acting Mayor Chase Cox raised the issue because Mayor Kay Gifford was absent from the April 4 meeting.

Board member Patrick Nelson presented the options. The city could simply remove the infected trees, try to treat them, or do what Nelson said was most effective: cut them down and then replant them.

Flinders said she doesn’t know if the Trees Please grant could be earmarked for a reforestation effort.

The emerald ash borer was recently found at Mill Creek Park in Paullina. This led Sutherland Public Works Director Tony Larsen to contact the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

S-shaped patterns curled under the bark of an ash tree are a telltale sign of an emerald ash borer infestation. The invasive insect was confirmed in the Lyon department in April 2021.

“We’re going to bring in an arborist to check the trees and see what we should do,” Larsen said.

He added that a pair of trees next to playground equipment in the city park show signs of the pest.

The emerald ash borer has been moving through the Midwest since 2012 and has been causing problems in the Northwest region for several years.

Ash is a common tree in the region, even giving the name of the town of Ashton in Osceola County.

O’Brien County Conservation Director Travis Scott confirmed last month that the pest was becoming a problem in his jurisdiction.

“There will always be one type of tree disease – always different things showing up. The greater the diversity of species we have, the better off we are,” Scott said. “When there’s more diversity, the disease doesn’t spread as quickly and affect as many trees.”

For now, the topics of the tree are rooted in the present. Larsen said he plans to begin seriously addressing the issue within the next month and the board may have options on further action by its next meeting on Monday, May 2.

This story first appeared in the April 16, 2022 edition of The South O’Brien Sun.

Jessica C. Bell