Cedar Rapids forestry crews cleaning up downed trees and limbs

Most downed trees are ash, officials say; more limbs could fall in coming weeks

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Winter storms here typically put Cedar Rapids' forestry crews behind the wheel of a snow plow to clean off city streets. Thursday, the heavy wet snow dropped trees and limbs in sufficient numbers to bring out the chain saws.

At midday Thursday, Todd Fagan, the cityís arborist, said the number of downed trees and limbs was keeping a city forestry crew busy, but the damage was less than what he might have expected with such a heavy, wet snow and high winds, he said.

The biggest surprise, Fagan noted, was that the majority of damaged street trees seemed to be ash trees, which make up about one-fourth of the trees along city streets. The city has been cutting down ash trees in declining condition in the last few years and replacing them with other tree species in preparation for the expected arrival of the ash tree-killing emerald ash borer.

"As a city arborist, I donít like to see any big tree come down," Fagan said Thursday. "But if I had a choice, given whatís on the horizon, Iíd rather see an ash tree come down than a nice, old oak."

Fagan said storms with heavy snow and high winds can crack limbs, but not bring them down immediately. Limbs likely will be falling over the next couple of weeks because of the storm, he said.

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