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The Grinnell community has lost a significant portion of its urban forest due to the emerald ash borer (EAB) and the devastation from the August 10, 2020 derecho. The community has taken steps to replace many of the trees lost to previous storms and the EAB; however the 2020 derecho resulted in an unprecedented loss of a wide variety of species and age of trees. The city has the good fortune of having access to a tree inventory for all public spaces including public rights-of-way. City staff is currently working to compare this historic data from 2010 to existing conditions to determine the current state of our urban forest in comparison to previous assessments. Mayor Agnew is working to form a citizen task force that will be supplemented by experts in this field to review the data and utilize it to create a process and plan for the improvement of the urban forest on public property. We also want to use this process to take what we have learned from the 2020 derecho and previous storms in 2010 and 2007 to reduce damages caused by trees during these types of events.
The city of Grinnell does not regulate the planting of trees on private property. Property owners may plant trees on property they own. State law requires that you contact Iowa One Call (800)-292-8989 or email http://www.iowaonecall.com prior to digging. We also recommend careful consideration of the species of tree to be planted and the location to avoid conflicts with utility service lines, potential damage to structures during future storms, and potential negative impacts on adjoining properties.
The Grinnell City Council passed a moratorium on all tree plantings within the public owned rights-of-way effective 09-08-2020 through 12-31-2020. The moratorium was put in place to allow city staff to complete a canvassing of the current inventory of trees on public properties and to perform a thorough review of the species of trees allowed in the public rights-of-way along with other considerations.
Once the moratorium expires, it is anticipated that the existing tree planting for public rights-of-way permit process will remain in place. Permits may be obtained by the adjoining property owners once the moratorium expires by contacting the Grinnell Building and Planning Department at (641-236-2600). The permit is free. Below are some of the considerations for staff when reviewing permit requests.