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Derecho recovery: Cedar Rapids to begin tree replanting with an Arbor Day event in October

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Cedar Rapids in the aftermath of the Aug. 10 derecho. — Jason Smith/Little Village

The city of Cedar Rapids announced three events in the coming weeks aimed at replacing its lost tree canopy. The city lost about 65 percent of its trees after the Aug. 10 derecho.

The first is an Arbor Day celebration on Friday at Cedar River Academy at Taylor Elementary. The celebration is usually in April but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The city must hold an Arbor Day tree planting within the calendar year as a requirement of Tree City USA, according to the city.

Cedar Rapids has been recognized as a Tree City by the Arbor Day Foundation for more than 40 consecutive years, which is the longest record of any city in Iowa, according to the news release.

The event begins at 9 a.m., and four to six trees will be planted on the school site. Students will receive information about tree planting and care.

The city is also partnering with Trees Forever and Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust to hold two tree adoption events. The events are part of the city’s ReLeaf program that aims to replant the tree canopy in the city.

Residents can purchase two trees or shrubs online for $10 or $15. The trees or shrubs must be planted on the resident’s private property within one week of pick-up.

There will be two pick-up events. The first will be on Sunday, Oct. 25, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Stadium, the second Sunday, Nov. 1, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Noelridge Park in the pool parking lot.

Outdoor fires still prohibited

The City of Cedar Rapids is reminding residents that its ban on outdoor fires remains in effect.

The burn ban is expected to stay until at least the first round of tree debris removal has been completed, according to the city. As of Thursday morning, the city is almost 92 percent done with the first pass. Residents can check the progress in different areas on the tree debris removal map.

Fire Chief Greg Smith first announced the burn ban during a news conference on Aug. 17. The fire department is allowing liquid petroleum gas and natural gas fire pits to be used but no wood-fired recreational fires. The department wants to prevent a recreational fire turning into a large tree debris fire or brush fire.

Even though certain parts of the city no longer have piles of debris, a burn ban for certain sections “is not practical,” according to a news release. The fire department will re-evaluate after the first round of tree debris removal is completed to see if the burn ban needs to remain in place.

Loose leaf vacuum collection begins Monday

The city’s fall loose leaf vacuum collection is beginning on Monday, Oct. 19, after a two-week delay. The collection was postponed to give city crews extra time to collect tree debris following the Aug. 10 derecho.

The Solid Waste and Recycling Division is asking residents to clear their collection area of sticks and debris ahead of Monday. Sticks longer than six inches can clog vacuum equipment and cause serious damage, according to a city news release.

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An updated lead collection schedule can be found online. Garbage, recycling and yard waste collection will continue as usual.


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