By Cindy Hadish/Homegrown Iowan
CEDAR RAPIDS – Losses continue to stack up in the Czech Village neighborhood, where another round of trees have been given the axe, in the name of flood control.
The neighborhood was inundated with floodwaters from the nearby Cedar River in 2008, after which numerous homes were demolished, leading to a drop in customers for many Czech Village businesses.
Already, the city removed nearly 200 trees – some of them at least a century old – from the Czech Village and Time Check neighborhoods, citing the process of street and sidewalk removal that “might harm the root systems.”
This time, another 184 trees are being cut down in the Czech Village neighborhood alone, to prepare for the city’s flood control system, said Rob Davis, flood control program manager for the Cedar Rapids Public Works Department.
CAJ Enterprises, Inc., of West Branch, was awarded the contract for the latest round of tree removal, for $63,787.
As happened previously, the city has no inventory of the species of trees being removed, which neighbors said provided habitat for eagles and other wildlife. Trees also are being removed on the east side of the river, in the New Bohemia area. Throughout the city, ash trees are targeted for removal because of the threat of emerald ash borer, but the trees being removed near Czech Village appear to be a wide variety and some have been chopped down even beyond the area that Davis said would be used for flood control.
Davis said the trees are being cut down in the winter so they don’t interfere with nesting sites of the Northern long-eared bat, a threatened species that might use the trees during warm weather.
He noted that the earthen levee that the city intends to eventually build will have only short grasses, and no trees.
Trees are known for their use in managing stormwater runoff, with strong roots that absorb water, in addition to holding soil in place, but Davis said the trees might open holes in the levee for burrowing animals.
“Trees are not compatible on levees,” he said.
Water and storm sewer pipes will be relocated in the area in 2017, Davis said, with the earthen levee scheduled to be built on the west side of the river in 2018-2019. The levee will run from 17th Avenue SW to the landfill and between A and B streets.
Davis said a detention basin and pump system also are included in the plans.
Learn more about tree removals in Cedar Rapids: “Green” removed from Greene Square Park