116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Just over two years after the 2020 derecho devastated the area’s tree canopy, cleanup at Legion Park in Marion has been completed.
The park, which is connected to Thomas Park at 343 Marion Blvd., features a few dozen acres of woodlands with trails and an 18-hole disc golf course. It has been partly out of commission since the destructive storm swept through Eastern Iowa on Aug. 10, 2020.
Crews have spent a portion of this summer cleaning up the area and removing hazardous trees from the woods.
The disc golf course now is partially open, with the back nine holes available to use and the front nine still closed.
Marion Parks and Recreation Director Seth Staashelm recently spoke with The Gazette about the cleanup project that took place in July and into August.
Question: How much damage was done within Legion Park?
Answer: There’s around 20 acres of woodland and much like a lot of the areas the derecho hit, we saw more than 40 to 50 percent of canopy loss. Unfortunately, a lot of the cleanup we had to do was hazard mitigation. The trees that were there didn’t really have the best chance of success.
We worked closely with the city arborist and the cleanup crew to figure out what the best options were for removal of hazardous material to give us the best chance for reforestation and our future for the area, too.
Q: What kind of work needed to be done?
A: There was the large removal of hazardous trees. There was a lot of logging equipment coming back and forth and obviously, with any residences, you don’t want anybody to just come through the area where trees were being taken down, especially large trees being taken out or even material removed from the property and chipped up. There was that activity that we saw through much of the derecho cleanup.
Crews were working in there for about a month. They were really efficient. It was Miller Logging, and they worked with Linn County Conservation and did a lot of their derecho/woodland cleanup. They’ve been very good to work with.
This area wasn’t in the flood plain, so we couldn't find reason to qualify under (Federal Emergency Management Agency) mitigation, so that’s why we visited this work much later. It wasn’t covered by FEMA. It will be local matching from urban forestry dollars or the general fund. Those are the two funds we’re looking at. The cost was around $175,000.
Q: What’s next or what still needs to be done in the future? Is there a tree replanting plan?
A: Right now, we are pretty much seeding everything in a mix for erosion control, and we’ve also put water bars to help water control. But we will be doing a plan with our tree board and looking at working with the local disc golf group on re-establishing the course and reforesting the area.
Q: In your view, was that area the most heavily damaged park area in the city from the derecho?
A: There was a lot of downed material, especially if you went on the south side of the hill facing toward Menard’s. We saw a similar area at Faulkes Heritage Woods (on Cedar Rapids-Marion border). I would say between that and Faulkes. Those were two of the heaviest hits. It’s hard to reflect two years after and going back and imagining. It was so numbing two years ago to see all that and come back and have some normalcy and then going back to this cleanup still brings back a shock like wow there was a lot that was damaged.
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