116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Although the 2020 derecho’s hurricane-force winds toppled thousands of trees around Cedar Rapids, the city of Cedar Rapids was named a Tree City USA for the 44th year.
The award is presented by the Arbor Day Foundation and Iowa Department of Natural Resources to communities that show a dedication to the importance of trees. Cedar Rapids has received this award for more consecutive years than any other city in Iowa.
City Parks and Recreation Director Hashim Taylor said Cedar Rapids being honored as a Tree City USA shows the city is taking its tree canopy seriously.
He and other city officials held a brief Arbor Day program Friday morning with students at Hoover Elementary School to celebrate the benefits trees add to the community.
Council member Ann Poe read a proclamation to mark the occasion, issued “with the hope it will spur citizens’ interest in public and private tree care throughout our community,” she said.
Cedar Rapids in February adopted the ReLeaf plan to reforest the tree canopy lost in the derecho over a 10-year period. The plan is part of a public-private partnership with Marion-based nonprofit Trees Forever.
The plan provides a comprehensive urban reforestation model. Officials believe Cedar Rapids’ tree loss is perhaps the biggest urban forestry disaster in U.S. history, and in crafting this plan aimed to provide the premier reforestation model for communities grappling with devastating tree loss.
Over 10 years, the plan calls for 42,502 trees to be planted on public land — 34,227 street trees and 8,275 park trees. It also contains a list of recommended native species to plant to guide replanting on private land.
Cedar Rapids has committed $1 million annually for 10 years toward the overall $37 million plan, with private fundraising, grants and other funding expected to cover the rest.
“We have this plan that we're going to have to really invest in our tree canopy over the next 10 years with ReLeaf Cedar Rapids,” Taylor said. “And the city is committed to doing that.”
Taylor also noted Cedar Rapids is working to grind more than 9,000 stumps left from trees that removed because of damage sustained in the derecho.
“We're committed to rebuilding the urban tree canopy for future generations like the students here at Hoover Elementary School,” Taylor said.
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