DES MOINES, Iowa — Most communities in the Des Moines metro area have few restrictions on the removal of trees for development during a time of rapid growth, according to a review.
Des Moines and Clive require developers to replant some trees removed for new development, but most metro cities do not have specific tree protection requirements, according a Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/2cjNvey ) review.
Johnston has ordinances to prevent the clear-cutting of land to make way for new homes, offices or retail centers.
Ankeny, Waukee, West Des Moines and Urbandale do not have tree preservation ordinances, but they do require landscaping with new construction.
Chris Murray, president and CEO of the Denny Elwell Co., said it’s not a standard practice for developers to do a tree survey.
Des Moines city planning administrator Michael Ludwig says the city encourages the preservation of its urban tree canopy, but builders aren’t required to keep a specific percentage of existing trees when developing property.
Developers do have to submit a tree protection and mitigation plan for each site, but trees can still be removed if they impede a development project or are in poor condition.
C.J. Stephens, president of Tree Des Moines, a nonprofit tree advocacy group, said the group recently took an inventory of trees in six Des Moines parks, playgrounds, rights of way and other public areas. Stephens said the group was discouraged by the results.
Stephens said that of the 38,034 trees counted, fewer than 1 percent were categorized as being in “very good” condition.
“We see a bigger need than we ever did before to plant trees,” Stephens said.
Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com