Cedar Rapids adopts $37 million ReLeaf program helping replanting damage done by August 2020 derecho

Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 6:43 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The city of Cedar Rapids will plant more than 42,000 trees in public parks and along public streets over the next 10 years.

The Cedar Rapids City Council voted unanimously to adopt the ReLeaf Cedar Rapids plan during its meeting Tuesday afternoon. It will work to repair tree damage done by the August 2020 derecho that devastated around 60% of the city’s tree canopy.

The $37 million recovery effort has an annual estimated cost of $3.7 million for 10 years. The city of Cedar Rapids will fund $1 million annually, for a total of $10 million. The other $27 million will come from public and private sources. Marion-based non-profit Trees Forever will help manage the private fundraising effort. Other potential sources of funding may come from grants.

38 of Cedar Rapids more than 90 parks will see a total of 8,275 new trees being planted. You can find the designs and timelines for those parks here.

Several factors went into deciding which parks would be part of the ReLeaf plan, and in what order they would see planting efforts, such as which parks were close to neighborhoods and widely used by families, and tree equity scores. “That looks at socioeconomic variables, it looks at urban heat islands, it looks at climatic variables, it looks at the percentage of tree canopy that existed in town prior to the storm,” said Patrick Alvord, principle landscape architect for Confluence, Inc.

Another goal is to plant parks better than they were, with an emphasis on creating shade where people are, having tree-lined paths, and edible landscapes. Of the 38 parks, nine reserve areas for community gardens as the demand arises.

34,227 trees will be planted along public right of ways. You can see the timelines for streets here.

People will soon be able to track the progress on the city’s website. If you don’t want to wait for the city to get to your right of way for replanting, people can apply for a permit to plant street trees within the public right-of-way adjacent to their property at any time planting conditions are favorable.

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