The Winnebago County Board of Supervisors has decided on a course of action for the right-of-way land in Logan Township, Sections 8 and 9, on the curve of county highway R50.
The county will remove the willow trees in the vacated area either through shredding or spraying with costs not to exceed $5,000.
Currently, the land is split between the landowners, who own the deed to the land and the county, which has the right-of-way easement.
County engineer Scott Meinders said there is a road ditch connecting the old abandoned box culvert, before the curve in the road of R50, by the state line was changed to be a smoother curve, to the new box culvert going over the road.
Meinders said he thought the county could clear the brush along the flowage way and drag an excavator along and dig out any obstructions in the flowage.
“I gathered everybody’s looking to have a clear path so we can see where the water’s supposed to flow so we can keep an eye on things and make sure that the board will accept the responsibility as landowners that things are flowing well and they can physically see that,” Meinders said.
Al Divan, who has a tree shredding business with his son, said they would be able to clear the area along the flowage way for about $800 to $900. However, this dis not include the center area with all the willows. The areas would just along the old road ditch.
To address the center area, Divan suggested the Supervisors connect with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which does some helicopter spraying to kill trees and “piggyback” with them to spray the center area, as Divan himself does not have the ability to spray.
“That would be a good first step, in my opinion, is to spray it, get it dead, and then it would be easy to deal with,” Divan said. “…Once it’s dead, then it would be relatively easy to do.”
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Divan said the willow trees will burn off “relatively well” once dead, but if they are still green and alive, they will not burn.
“But getting the waterway cleared out, that is like a step, but getting stuff dead in there is another so it just eliminates the fuel for beaver and whatnot to deal with down the road, or fall in there and create it to fill it back up again like it has,” Divan said.
Supervisor Stensrud said the county pays about $1,500 a year to deal with the beavers, and Meinders said for now they have the beavers under control.
According to Divan, there are two types of spray material the county can choose from: one that is safe for grass but would kill the trees or other cheaper products that would just kill everything.
Spot spraying in a helicopter is also an option, in which they can use the second cheaper type without actually killing everything and just killing the trees.
For the sake of cost, Divan suggested spraying the area, burning it and seeing “what’s left from there.”
As for the roots, Divan said that would be the easy part after all the trees are down, he could go back in and get rid of whatever may be regrowing.
Since spraying is more effective while the trees are still green, Divan said if the Supervisors are going to do that, then they need to jump on that as soon as possible.
For now, Meinders and Divan will look further into the costs for each option for the Supervisors, who agreed to no more than $5,000 to be spent in removing the trees by either shredding on the ground or spraying in the air, “whichever turns out to be the best option,” Supervisor Bill Jensvold said.
One of the landowners, Denise Olsen, said she just wants the land to be restored to how it was 50 years ago before it was let go.
“We just appreciate you helping us get it back to a manageable point where we can [maintain it],” she said.