Credit Island's tree troubles aren't over yet – Quad-City Times


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Hundreds of dead or dying trees have been removed from Credit Island Park in Davenport and more have to go.
Credit Island Park in Davenport has lost hundreds of trees to drought, flood, disease and the derecho. More losses are expected.
The Seurat statues aren’t the only things missing from Davenport’s Credit Island; so are hundreds of trees.
The noticeable death and removal of trees from the park is expected to continue into the foreseeable future, city forester John Vance said.
According to a 2012 inventory, the 450-acre park at 2301 West River Drive had 1,357 trees in its interior, not counting those at the point of the island or along the shoreline.
But hundreds of those trees have subsequently died because of natural forces, Vance said. Among the reasons: drought, including during 2012 and 2021; record cold in 2019; infestation by emerald ash borer that kills ash trees; flooding, including 103 days when tree roots were under water during the 2019 flood, and wind damage caused by the 2020 derecho.
Over the past year the forestry department, a division of public works, removed 225 big trees, a lot of oak and ash, “and it looks like we weren’t even there,” Vance said.
“If drought continues over winter, I expect it to get worse,” Vance said of tree deaths, adding that he might ask for help in removal, especially of trees in areas where, if they fell, could cause damage or harm to people.
Vance has a re-planting plan, but the problem is finding good soil in which to plant trees so they don’t die.
When the flood water that has consistently inundated Credit Island in recent years subsides, it leaves behind silt and sand that is not good for growing trees, Vance said. The topography is “like a bowl,” he said. The park road is elevated, but the bulk of the land is lower.
In areas where he has found good soil, his employees have planted sycamore, river birch, hackberry and white pine. But those areas aren’t easy to find, he said.
Some dead trees can be left standing because they provide habitat for various creatures, some microscopic and some big enough to draw crowds.
“It’s the only place in the city where you see pileated woodpeckers on a regular basis,” Vance said.
Pileated woodpeckers are North America’s largest woodpecker; ‘pileated’ refers to their prominent red crest. When word spreads among bird watchers that there is a pileated on Credit Island, they visit in noticeable numbers to see it.
Other plans for the park
A comprehensive master plan developed for Davenport parks and accepted by the city council in April recommends four improvements to Credit Island to be accomplished over the next one to seven years.
They are:
• Raise the causeway to improve access to the island during times of minor flooding, to be done in one to three years. This could be accomplished by raising the height of the current causeway or by constructing a bridge and letting the Mississippi River run underneath. The plan does not make a recommendation either way; that is yet to be decided, Chad Dyson, director of parks and recreation, said.
The recommendation also does not have a cost estimate attached, but a bridge would be much more expensive.
However, a bridge also would have environmental benefits, including less sedimentation of the island, Dyson said. People who study natural areas and hydrology have suggested a bridge so that Credit Island can become an island again and that its slough can be washed out.
• Create an outdoor wedding venue/celebration/gathering space next to the Credit Island Lodge, to be done in the next four to seven years. This space would be similar to the gathering space in the Lilac Garden at Duck Creek Park and at Vander Veer, Dyson said.
• Remove and relocate storage and maintenance buildings next to the lodge in the next year or so, then landscape the area so that it is more attractive as a gathering space.
• Develop a kayak/canoe launch at an interior pond in the next four to seven years.
Credit Island is one of the city’s oldest parks, purchased in 1918. At one time it had a nine-hole golf course, but after repeated flooding, it did not reopen in 2009. In addition to its nature trails and bird-watching opportunities, the park offers rental of the historic lodge (built in 1923-24 and renovated after a 2013 fire), an 18-hole disc golf course, a boat ramp, horseshoe pits, two tennis courts, a basketball court, two baseball diamonds, a picnic area and playground.

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Hundreds of dead or dying trees have been removed from Credit Island Park in Davenport and more have to go.
Credit Island Park in Davenport has lost hundreds of trees to drought, flood, disease and the derecho. More losses are expected.
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