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Centuries-old trees removed from IVH

T-R photos by Lana Bradstream — A crane lifts a piece of a centuries-old tree after it is cut by an employee of Pella Tree Service. The company had to remove trees at least 230 years old from the grounds on Monday. They were damaged by the August derecho.

Some of the longest-standing items on the Iowa Veterans Home campus were removed Monday from the Veterans Cemetery.

Oak and pine trees, some which were at least 230 years old, were taken down by Pella Tree Service of Lynnville.

Pella Tree Service Vice President Brent Rolffs said his company is on contract with the IVH and have been on the grounds since the August derecho, removing the large amount of trees damaged by the hurricane-like winds.

“These are some of the oldest trees we have ever gotten rid of,” he said. “Some of them have 230 to 240 rings. It is just sad.”

Every year, a tree forms a new ring as it grows, thus the age of a tree can be determined by counting the rings when it is cut down. Rolffs said the rings are not all alike. Some of the rings are wider, meaning the tree grew at a faster rate in that year. The remnants of one of the 230-year-old trees also had straight, dark lines cutting through a number of the rings. Rolffs said it was a sign of rot.

At least 230 rings were counted in this tree taken down at the Iowa Veterans Home on Monday. Even though the tree was old and large, the dark lines are a sign of rot.

To avoid damage to the tombstones of nearby Civil War veterans, the very old and extremely large trees had to be removed in pieces. A crane was brought in, and a strap attached to a large branch. As soon as the branch was secured by the strap, a Pella Tree Service employee would cut through it, freeing it from the tree. The crane would then lower the branch to the ground, avoiding the tombstones. The piece would then be cut into smaller pieces, if necessary, and placed in a wood chipper.

Since the derecho, Pella has removed around 150 trees from the IVH campus. By the time the company is done, Rolffs estimates about 25 percent of the trees will be gone.

“There was a lot of damage here,” he said. “These trees did not take the wind very well.”

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Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

Brent Rolffs, vice president of Pella Tree Service, helps lower a piece of a 230-year-old tree onto the ground, keeping the tombstones of Civil War soldiers safe. The August derecho severely damaged trees on the campus and they could not be saved, despite their age.

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