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Debris Removal

Tree Debris Removal
Neighborhood Collection Underway

Pickup crews are beginning in the SW quadrant. The City anticipates reaching all neighborhoods within approximately 4 – 5 weeks, depending on the volume of remaining debris. Please refer to the map below to see where crews are currently working. 


Collection Details 

During tree debris collection, crews will:

  • Remove curbside piles, rake-up remaining branches and other debris in the right-of-way
  • Break down and remove root balls and stumps torn out of the ground; back-fill large holes
  • One tree debris pickup through alleys
  • Grinding down right-of-way stumps to be done by the City at a later date

To assist with clean-up efforts, residents are encouraged to make full use of their Yardy carts for smaller piles of twigs and branches that can fit into the Yardy, and to help ensure their sidewalk is kept clear of debris.

Where to Take Tree Debris
Linn County residents can also take tree debris and yard waste to the Cedar Rapids Linn County Solid Waste Agency.

  • Tree debris/yard-waste drop-off: $24/ton, $5 minimum charge
  • Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 8 am – 4 pm | Starting April 3: Saturdays, 8 am – 12 pm
  • Location: 2250 A Street SW (near Czech Village)
  • Contact information: https://www.solidwasteagency.org/ | Phone: 319-398-5163

Illegal Dumping
Residents are reminded not to deposit tree debris on City of Cedar Rapids property, such as empty lots, parks, etc. This is considered illegal dumping, and is against municipal code. The City will continue collecting tree debris free of charge at the curb, resuming April 19, or residents can take tree debris to the Linn County Solid Waste Agency (drop-off fees and hours of operation: https://www.solidwasteagency.org/compost-yard-waste).

Street Tree Removals
Crews have currently removed approximately 12,000 damaged street and park trees, and tree removal efforts are nearing completion. Crews anticipate completing the final removal of damaged street trees within the next 3 – 4 weeks. The crews removing street trees are working independently of the crews removing curbside piles, and will be working throughout the city on remaining tree removals.

Right-of-Way Damage
Minor property damage sustained during debris removal performed by the City or its contractors such as lawn or sod will need to be repaired by the property owner. Free compost and mulch are available while supplies last at the Linn County Solid Waste Agency. Root balls or uprooted stumps that left large holes in the right-of-way will be back-filled by the City’s contractor.

Right-of-Way Stumps
Stumps left behind in the right-of-way following the removal of a damaged street tree will be ground down by the City and re-seeded. Preliminary work will begin by April; however, the bulk of this year’s stump grinding will occur later this summer. City Forestry crews will conduct the work in June and July, and will follow the same prioritization route that is used during snow emergencies (main arterials first, followed by collector streets, then residential neighborhoods). Crews estimate grinding down approximately 2,500 stumps this year. Due to the volume of damaged street trees, this will be a multi-year process.

Tree Debris in Parks & Golf Courses
Cleanup remained underway throughout the winter on removing debris from parks and golf courses. Work will continue this spring as ground conditions become firm and able to support heavy equipment. We appreciate the public’s patience as we work to reopen public parks and ensure they are safe for patrons. Crews are working their way through the park system and prioritizing clean-up based on recreational programming needs and firm ground conditions. Once safety hazards are removed, staff and volunteers can assist with a final clearing of small debris. Please contact parks@cedar-rapids.org if you would like to help with parks cleanup in the future, or watch the City’s Municipal Volunteer Program (MVP) page for opportunities.


Frequently Asked Questions


TREE DEBRIS REMOVAL


When is the deadline for setting tree debris at the curb for pick-up?

The deadline to have all tree debris to the curb for free pickup by the City was Monday, April 19, 2021. 

What clean-up work will crews perform curbside?
During collection, crews will remove curbside piles, rake-up remaining branches and other debris in the right-of-way, break down and remove uprooted root balls, remove stumps torn out of the ground, and will conduct one pickup through alleys. Root balls or uprooted stumps that left large holes in the right-of-way will be back-filled by the City’s contractor. Right-of-way stump grinding will take place at a later date.

How will I know crews have completed work in my area?
Completed areas will be indicated on the map shown above. There will be no additional pickup in areas marked completed. City staff will review and verify each zone to confirm when pickup has been completed. Residents can also use the map to see where pickup is currently underway. 

I want to make sure my tree debris isn't missed, how can I report a concern?
Residents can report missed locations on our website.

Will large root balls be picked up?
Yes, the City will pick up large root balls. The contractor will use special equipment to split apart the root systems and haul them away, and will back fill the holes left behind. Hazardous root ball work may extend into the spring, due to the presence of underground utilities.

Is the City picking up tree debris from the alley?
Spring collection will include one pick-up through alleys. Given limited space, we encourage residents to continue placing debris at the curb whenever possible.

Is the City charging residents to pick up tree debris at the curb?
No. Tree debris removal is being done curb-side at no charge to residents. Tree debris must be placed at the curb prior to April 19.

What can I do about my neighbor not cleaning up their tree debris?
We understand that many residents are still seeking contractor availability and making arrangements to remove private tree debris, and that it will take some time before resources can be accessed by everyone. Long term, tree debris will not be permitted to permanently remain in residents’ yards. At this time, we are actively encouraging residents who need assistance with derecho clean up to reach out for available resources. Property owners without the means to remove tree debris from private property can reach out to Waypoint at 319-366-7999, who can help connect residents with available community services and volunteers. All residents can assist by helping share this information with their friends and neighbors. A timeline will be established at a later date, outlining when debris from private property needs to be removed. Debris remaining will be subject to the City’s nuisance abatement process.

RIGHT-OF-WAY DAMAGE

What happens if something on my property was damaged by City crews or equipment as they were removing tree debris?
Minor property damage sustained during debris removal performed by the City or its contractors such as lawn or sod will need to be repaired by the property owner. Free compost and mulch are available while supplies last at the Linn County Solid Waste Agency. Root balls or uprooted stumps that left large holes in the right-of-way will be back-filled by the City’s contractor.

Private Property: You can report more significant private property damage sustained during debris removal performed by the City or its contractors (pavement or structural damage) to the City’s Risk Services Division: Phone: (319) 286-5125 | Email: J.Lynch@cedar-rapids.org | website.
Right-of-Way: The Public Works Department will be reaching out to property owners directly who sustained damage to driveway aprons or sidewalks in the right-of-way, either during the derecho or subsequent clean-up efforts.

RIGHT-OF-WAY-STUMPS


Is the City addressing stumps left in the right-of-way after a tree removal?
Yes, stumps left behind in the right-of-way following the removal of a damaged street tree will be ground down by the City and re-seeded. This will be a multi-year process.

When will right-of-way stump grinding take place?
Preliminary work will begin by April; however, the bulk of this year’s stump grinding will occur later this summer. City Forestry crews will conduct the work in June and July, and will follow the same prioritization route that is used during snow emergencies (main arterials first, followed by collector streets, then residential neighborhoods). Crews estimate grinding down approximately 2,500 stumps this year.

How long will it take to address all right-of-way stumps?
Due to the volume of damaged street trees, this will be a multi-year process.

Can I remove the stump in my right-of-way at my own expense?
Right-of-way stumps can be removed, at the resident’s expense, by following the same process as replanting in the right-of-way. Complete an application for a permit. Stumps must be ground to 6-8 inches below grade. Trees planted in the same area will need to be moved 3-5 feet to one side or the other to avoid root systems from the tree that was removed. Property owners will need to grind the stump out completely to a depth of approximately 18-24 inches if they plan on re-planting in the exact same location.

REPLANTING IN THE RIGHT-OF-WAY


What is the process for replanting in the right-of-way?
The City encourages replanting of right-of-way trees by residents, however, plantings must adhere to the following requirements. After the significant tree loss caused by the derecho, it is imperative that trees planted have the greatest potential for success.

  • Complete an application for a permit to plant in the right-of-way. The fee for the permit has been waived through 2021. The permit allows the City to include the tree on the tree inventory, and ensures that the resident understands the requirements of street tree planting.
  • Contact IOWA ONE-CALL at 1-800-292-8989 to locate underground utilities before doing any digging or removal of stumps.
  • Trees must be at least 1 inch in trunk diameter when measured 4.5 feet above grade. This typically equates to a 1.5 inch caliper tree. Trees provided through some community tree adoption programs will not meet this requirement. Tree size is required to make sure the tree will survive the challenging growing conditions of placement within the right-of-way.
  • Review the recommendations for tree species prior to selecting a tree. The use of trees native to Iowa and the Midwest is recommended wherever possible. Native trees are adapted to local growing conditions and ecosystems and often perform best over the long run. Exotic trees that exhibit invasive properties and are known to compete with native species should not be planted.
  • Review resources and videos for the best planting success.
  • Return the right-of-way to its original condition following planting.

Where can I find more information?
For information on replanting in the right-of-way, click HERE


ARCHIVE FAQs

Why are tree trimming crews leaving debris piles behind?
Crews are trying to address hanging and potentially hazardous limbs before winter, when snow and ice can weigh down damaged limbs and increase fall risk. They need to move quickly in order to reach 40,000 street trees before winter, so they are trimming and leaving debris behind so they can quickly move on to the next tree. A crew will pick up the tree debris at a later date. Residents can assist by pushing tree debris to the curb for our crews to collect.

Why do crews keep returning multiple times to trim a street tree?
Crews may need to return to a street tree multiple times before the process is fully completed. Initially, crews focused on cutting only the most hazardous branches, moving quickly to the next tree in order to address the worst hazards throughout the city. Crews will then return to cut additional broken branches or address new breaks caused by wind or ice since the derecho. The contractor crews are focusing only on cutting hazardous limbs; City Forestry crews will also return to help make healthy, clean cuts that will support the longevity of the tree. Contractor crews are paid the same amount for work at the tree, whether they trim the tree once or multiple times.

Why are crews trimming branches off private trees?
Crews are trimming hazardous limbs from private trees if the limbs are hanging into the public right-of-way and have the potential to fall.

Why is the City working on clearing parks, when tree debris still needs to be picked up off public right-of-way?
Street-clearing resources are not being used to clear parks. Flannery Trucking LLC is the contractor overseeing the pickup of all curbside storm debris. A separate contractor, Boomerang, is working on clearing public parks.

Why is the City utilizing a contractor to pick up debris?
Contracted crews are working 10-12 hours a day, 7 days a week- which has allowed for most City crews to resume seasonal construction and complete maintenance projects before winter. The contractor vehicles are specifically equipped to haul large volumes of tree debris, and on average, can carry the equivalent of 5 standard city truck loads. Their vehicles are carrying approximately 150 cubic yards.

Why are some trucks only partially filled to capacity?
Trucks are not filled to full capacity to reduce the risk of debris falling out onto the roadway. All truckloads are being tracked with debris monitors, and the contractor is paid by volume (not by truckload).

Are you picking up debris on private roads or what should those homeowners do to ensure the debris is picked up?
Yes, but we need approval through the Homeowners Association to drive equipment onto private roads. Please email the name and contact information for the neighborhood’s HOA representative to developmentservices@cedar-rapids.org so we can facilitate this.

How is debris at mobile home parks getting picked up?
Properties owned and maintained by a commercial enterprise, such as mobile home parks, are typically insured for disaster-related costs. Debris pick-up will be undertaken by the property manager, not the City.

Can the City save the wood for refurnishing purposes, or allow residents to enter drop-off sites and take wood for personal use?
Residents can save wood for personal use such as refurnishing, firewood, etc., but will need to collect any wood they want to save from their property or their neighbor’s property, prior to it being picked up by crews. Once the wood is picked up, it will go to a drop-off site for mulching as well as appropriate FEMA documentation, and is not available for residents. For safety reasons, we cannot allow residents onto drop-off sites while work is underway where heavy machinery is operated and there are significant volumes of large truck traffic and debris piles.

Why isn't the National Guard being used for tree debris pickup?
We requested and received the support of the National Guard during the early days of our disaster recovery efforts, through Linn County Emergency Management and Iowa Homeland Security. The National Guard was deployed by Thursday, August 13 with the mission to clear critical infrastructure; they accompanied electrical utility workers with clearing debris for electrical power restoration. The equipment and vehicles used by the Guard are not conducive to long-term, large scale debris management; the City has subsequently contracted with a firm that specializes in large debris clean-up and hauling, and who are specifically equipped for this type of disaster recovery.

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