City Yard Waste Site To Have Set Open Hours Starting June 22nd

(June 16, 2022) – Starting on Wednesday, June 22nd, the City of Decorah Yard Waste Site will have set open hours. The Yard Waste Site will be open on Wednesdays from 12 noon to 6:00 PM and on Saturdays from 7:00 AM to 11:00 AM. A key will no longer need to be checked out to access the site during these open hours.

As a reminder, only residents that live within City of Decorah city limits can deposit yard waste material at the Yard Waste Site. However, residents and non-residents are welcome to take wood chips, compost, and/or firewood from the site.

Please call the Street Department at 563-382-2157 with any questions.

City of Decorah Tree Board Commemorates Arbor Day with Tree Plantings

Decorah, IA (May 5, 2022) – The City of Decorah Tree Board planted 29 trees last Thursday and Friday to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day. Black Hills Energy and Trees Forever have partnered to offer a tree planting program known as “Power of Trees”. Through this partnership, the Tree Board was awarded a grant, which funded the planting. On May 14th, 35 more trees will be planted as part of this grant.

The Decorah Tree Board has been planting trees to replace ash trees that were removed due to the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation. Since 2019, the Tree Board has planted over 100 trees in boulevards/Right-of-Ways (ROW) throughout the City of Decorah. When choosing trees to replant, tree diversity was one of the most important considerations. Diversity among tree species is important to help avoid widespread tree loss due to infectious diseases or a pest infestation. The more diverse the urban tree canopy is, the healthier it is. When homeowners plant a tree, maple and crabapple trees should be avoided. Both are overpopulated in Decorah. The Acer (maple) genus makes up about 50 percent of the City’s urban tree canopy just in the boulevards/ROWs (not counting those on private property).

City Forester Sam Hogenson strongly encourages tree diversity, “Before EAB, our urban tree canopy consisted of about 15 percent of trees from the Fraxinus (ash) genus. Now, only treated ash trees will survive in the boulevard/ROW. The effects of losing so many ash trees has had a significant impact on our community. The removed trees would have offered benefits such as cleaner air, stormwater retention, and lower cooling costs, just to name a few. Since their removal, homes, parks, streets, parking lots, etc., are no longer receiving the benefits once offered by those trees. That was only 15 percent of the urban tree canopy, now imagine if a pest or disease attacked our maple trees and 50 percent of the trees remaining in the boulevards/ROWs were suddenly gone. The effects of losing so many trees would be drastic.”

So, when you decide to plant a tree in the boulevard/ROW or on private property, please consider the trees around you. Chances are, there are several maple or crabapple trees nearby. Choose something less common to plant and help ensure that our urban tree canopy is healthy and here for future generations to enjoy!

City of Decorah Leverages Stormwater Funding for Flood Reduction and Water Quality Improvement

Decorah, IA (April 15, 2022)

In 2016 the City of Decorah began collecting a stormwater utility fee from residents as a part of their water and sewer bill. The nominal fee was created as a means for the City to address stormwater improvement projects throughout the community that would fall outside the scope of normal street and sewer maintenance. Many other communities in Iowa have implemented similar programs as a way of changing the way urban developed areas handle stormwater runoff. To get the most out of funds collected, City officials worked with Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) to assist in project and grant development to strategically leverage stormwater funds. Projects implemented through this project will primarily address flood mitigation and water quality improvements. As a result, the City was awarded $96,000 through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s (IDALS) Urban Conservation Water Quality Initiative grant program and $500,000 from the Iowa Finance Authority’s Watershed Protection Grant program. The City will contribute stormwater utility funds along with other partner contributions to match these two grant programs allowing the City to stretch resident’s contribution via the stormwater utility fee further. The City was also a partner in an additional $500,000 project developed by Winneshiek County Economic Development and Tourism and RC&D for similar projects. All of these projects allow the City and partners to implement additional innovative practices that produce a larger flood reduction and water quality improvement benefit to the community.

The City is practicing innovative strategies for mitigating flood and water quality issues within the community by, not only implementing projects within City limits, but expanding projects upstream into the Upper Iowa River Watershed. Northeast Iowa RC&D employee Tori Nimrod, who also serves as the Upper Iowa River Watershed Coordinator stated, “The City is taking advanced flood mitigation actions by working upstream in the Upper Iowa River Watershed to solve the root causes of Decorah’s surface water issues.” A total of 6 different flood mitigation and water quality improvement practices will be constructed as a part of the City projects. Five of the projects will be implemented within City limits; these projects include an infiltration basin, two oxbow wetlands, bio-retention system, streambank stabilization, and native prairie planting. The City also plans to implement a stormwater wetland and 6 water and sediment basins in partnership with Winneshiek County Conservation Board along Dry Run Creek on County property. These projects will help reduce flash flooding by storing excess water on the landscape and allowing it to slowly release.

These projects come as a result of prioritization towards urban stormwater improvement and flood mitigation by the City, and the implementation of strategic avenues to fund stormwater projects. City Engineer Jeremy Bril noted, “Working with these local partners has been a true collaborative effort that has allowed us to pursue grant opportunities to further extend our taxpayer dollars as we work towards solutions to our watershed challenges.” Project implementation involving the projects described above is expected to take place over the following two years. However, the RC&D will continue to assist the City in using innovative strategies to leverage City stormwater funds and to implement additional projects that continue to mitigate flooding and improve water quality in the City. Nimrod noted, “The City’s stormwater improvement initiative, along with the work of other valuable partners in the community, will expedite the progress towards a more flood resilient community.”

Pool Street Closed March 16 – 17

Water Street Between Court Street and River Street Closed Starting Today

Decorah, IA (March 16, 2022) – The City of Decorah is notifying residents that Pool St will be closed at its intersection with College Drive. It will also be closed at its intersection with Center St. Traffic will be able to turn west on Pool Street from Center Street. A detour will be set up to route vehicles on College Drive through the Decorah Municipal Swimming Pool’s parking lot to allow access to Luther College.

Please call the Street Department at 563-382-2157 with any questions.

Do You Have Ash Trees on Your Property?

Do You Have Ash Trees on Your Property? Be Sure to Have Them Checked for Borers.

Decorah, IA (January 11, 2022) – The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is now firmly established in Decorah and infesting trees throughout the community. This introduced pest kills all species of ash trees by tunneling under the bark, destroying tissue that is essential to the life of the tree. Symptoms include cracked bark, branch dieback, new shoots sprouting from the trunk of the tree, and patches of light brown bark where woodpeckers have chipped off the gray outer bark while searching for the insects (called flecking).

Flecking is easily identified this time of year because woodpeckers are busy foraging for the larvae. In early stages of the EAB infestation, flecking will appear in the upper canopy of the tree (on smaller branches). As the infestation progresses, signs of flecking will continue throughout the lower canopy and down the trunk of the tree. In most cases, the tree should be removed as soon as possible when flecking is noticed on the trunk.

Trees that are heavily infested by EAB must be removed. The wood of trees killed by the borers dries out quickly, becoming brittle and hazardous, so it is wise to monitor trees regularly for presence of the pest and remove them while it is still safe to do so.

If a homeowner has an ash tree or suspects they may have an ash tree on their property, the City is highly recommending that it be checked by an arborist. If not badly infested, trees can be treated by having a certified applicator inject a suitable insecticide into the trunk of the tree. Treatments vary and must be reapplied throughout the life of the tree. Treatments applied to the soil are not recommended as they can be less effective, harmful to pollinators, and more likely to be overapplied. Please check with a local arborist for a treatment option that best fits the needs of you and your tree.

Diversity in our urban tree canopy is vital, so a disease or pest infestation is less likely to affect such a large portion of trees all at once. When planting, take a look at tree species in your neighborhood and choose one that is less common. One of the most commonly planted trees is maple. Homeowners are strongly cautioned against planting maple trees on private property due to overpopulation. All but one species of the maple genus are prohibited in boulevards until a healthy diversity in the urban canopy is achieved.

For more information, please contact City Forester Sam Hogenson at 563-277-5153 or by e-mail at Additional information is also available on the Decorah Tree Board website at

Snow Removal Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Decorah, IA (December 30, 2021) – With another winter season well underway, the City has received several questions regarding recent changes to the City’s snow removal code as well as requests for clarification of on-street parking requirements during a snow emergency. In an effort to help with these issues, the City has developed a list of snow removal frequently asked questions (FAQs).

  1. What are the recent updates to the City’s snow removal Code?

Recently, City Council approved several updates to the City’s Snow Removal Code. The primary points of emphasis were as follows:

  • Property owners shall not deposit any snow on to City streets, alleys, or parking lots, unless approval is received from the City. In other words, DO NOT push or blow snow from driveways or sidewalks into the street, alley, or parking lot.
  • Property owners must remove snow from their sidewalks within 24 hours following a snow event.
  • Property owners shall not place snow from their property on to another property or the right-of-way/boulevard of another property without approval from the appropriate property owner.
  • If City snow removal operations damage a mailbox, property owners must submit a Mailbox Claim Form for reimbursement. The City is not responsible for damage to other items in the boulevard (fences, plantings, etc.).
  1. When does a snow emergency take place?

A snow emergency is in effect whenever the City experiences a snowfall which accumulates a depth of one inch or more. The City makes every effort to issue a press release to notify residents when a snow emergency is in place, however, residents should be aware that a snow emergency is automatically in place whenever 1” or more of snow is received.

  1. What are the requirements for on-street parking during a snow emergency?

The City’s snow emergency parking policy requires that on even-numbered calendar days, all vehicles shall be parked on the side of the street where buildings have even numbers. On odd-numbered calendar days, all vehicles shall be parked on the side of the street where buildings have odd numbers. Residents are also reminded that when a snow emergency is not in place, any vehicles parked on the street need to be moved every 48 hours. 

  1. What time should a vehicle be moved to meet the odd and even side requirements?

This is a difficult question as the timing of snowfall is always hard to predict. That said, all residents should move their vehicles to the other side of the street sometime between 8 PM and 12 midnight. For example, if a snow emergency is in place on December 30th, all vehicles shall be parked on the even side of the street. After 8 PM on December 30th, vehicles can move over to the odd side of the street in anticipation of the odd side parking requirement for December 31st.

  1. What about for streets that are posted as one-sided parking only?

For City streets that have signs prohibiting parking on one side, the snow emergency parking restrictions supersede the one-sided parking. In other words, if a street normally does not allow parking on the odd side, vehicles are allowed to park on the odd side during a snow emergency. Once the snow emergency is no longer in effect, the normal one-sided parking restrictions are in place.

  1. What are the options for on-street parking in the downtown district?

It is very important for residents living in the downtown district to follow parking restrictions. Even when there is not a snow emergency in place, current parking restrictions do not allow overnight parking in most of the downtown district. Areas available for overnight parking include the 48-hour parking lot at the intersection of Heivly Street and Claiborne Drive, along the south side of Heivly Street, and along various side streets.

  1. When will cars and trucks start getting towed if they haven’t moved?

The City is working to educate residents on the changes to the snow emergency parking restrictions. The Police Department has started issuing warnings on vehicles that are not parked correctly. Per City Code, any vehicle that is not parked correctly or determined to be an interference with snow removal operations could be towed.

  1. How can you tell if a street is odd or even if there are no house numbers on the block?

This is uncommon, but there are a few streets around town that do not have the houses facing the right direction to have any house numbers on the block. For these blocks, the north and east sides should be considered even, and the south and west sides should be considered odd.

We appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding as we work to provide updates on changes to the snow removal policies. As always, please contact the Street Department at 382-2157 with any additional questions.

Curbside Leaf Collection to Begin on October 18th

Curbside Leaf Collection to Begin on October 18th

Decorah, IA (October 12, 2021) – The City of Decorah will begin curbside collection of leaves starting on Monday, October 18th. This year, the City will be alternating through each Ward on a different day of the week. Leaf collection will occur in each Ward on the following dates:

  • Ward 1: Mondays – 10/18, 10/25, 11/1, 11/8, and 11/15
  • Ward 2: Tuesdays – 10/19, 10/26, 11/2, 11/9, and 11/16
  • Ward 3: Wednesdays – 10/20, 10/27, 11/3, 11/10, and 11/17
  • Ward 4 and Ward 5: Thursdays – 10/21, 10/28, 11/4, 11/11, and 11/18

A map of the current Wards is available on the City’s website. Leaves may be put into the street 48-hours prior to your scheduled pick-up day but not before. Leaves must be in the street before 7:00 AM on your scheduled pick-up day and should be raked into windrows on the street 2-feet away from the curb line. Please do not park vehicles within 30-feet of windrows so equipment has adequate room to safely collect the leaves. The City is reminding residents that curbside collection is for leaves only; all other yard waste must be taken to the City’s Yard Waste Site.

In addition to the curbside leaf collection, leaves can be deposited in the designated area at the City’s Yard Waste Site on Trout Run Road which is currently open from sun up to sun down, seven days per week. There will be no leaf drop off available at the Street Department this year.

Please contact the Street Department at 382-2157 with any questions.

This is an official city press release.  Modifications of any kind are prohibited without express written consent of the author.  Any reprint or broadcast of this information must include this entire communication.

Leaf Collection Map

Valley View Drive to be Closed Starting on Friday 4/23

Valley View Drive to be Closed Starting on Friday 4/23

Decorah, IA (April 21, 2021) – The City of Decorah is notifying residents that Valley View Drive will be closed starting on Friday, April 23rd. The street will be closed between Highway 52 and the 5th Avenue/Pulpit Rock Road intersection. The closure is to allow for the contractor to start work on the Valley View Drive Improvements Project and is expected to last for 4-5 weeks.

Please call the Street Department at 563-382-2157 with any questions.

This is an official city press release.  Modifications of any kind are prohibited without express written consent of the author.  Any reprint or broadcast of this information must include this entire communication.

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Free Boulevard Tree Giveaway

Decorah, IA (April 14, 2021) 

The City of Decorah is announcing a free boulevard tree giveaway for residents within the City. The City has been gifted 50 trees from the Winneshiek Energy District with the goal of improving the City’s urban canopy. The trees will be planted by volunteers through the Winneshiek Energy District and the City of Decorah Tree Board. The trees range in size from eleven (11) inches to twenty (20) inches in height. Available species include Hackberry and Swamp White Oak. Hackberry trees are fast growing (24” or more per year), have a mature height of 50’-70’, a mature spread of 40’-70’, and yellow color in the fall. Swamp White Oak trees grow at a medium rate (12”-24” per year), have a mature height of 50’-60’, a mature spread of 50’-60’, and a yellow-brown color in the fall. Trees will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis, while also taking to account species diversity.

If you are interested in receiving a tree for your boulevard, please contact City Forester, Sam Hogenson at 563-277-5153 or by e-mail at and your boulevard will be assessed to ensure setback requirements are met.

This is an official city press release.  Modifications of any kind are prohibited without express written consent of the author.  Any reprint or broadcast of this information must include this entire communication.

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Spring Tree Pruning

Text only version available below PDF

2021 0324 Tree Pruning Press Release

Early Spring a Good Time to Prune Trees

Decorah, IA (March 24, 2021) – Early spring is an ideal time to prune your young trees, according to the Decorah Tree Board. Proper pruning will help prolong the life of your trees by reducing the risk of breakage as the trees grow. Pruning will also help your trees develop attractive, symmetrical shapes. Tools that are useful for pruning young trees include hand shears, loppers, and pruning saws. Make sure your tools are sharp so you get a clean cut and do not crush or tear the branches you are pruning.

Here are some tree pruning tips:

  • One of the most important things to remember when pruning a tree is that trees cannot heal Trees can only seal wounds so any wound you create will be with that tree for the rest of its life.
  • Wound dressing is not recommended to seal wounds on trees. Research has shown that wound dressings may actually harm the tree. Only apply a wound dressing if you must prune an oak tree during oak wilt season (April through July).
  • Remove any branches that are dead, broken, or rubbing against other branches.
  • Prune to maintain a central main stem that is as straight as possible and taller than the tree’s side branches. Remove or shorten any branches competing with this stem.
  • Remember that the branches attached to the main stem (trunk) will eventually become the main limbs of the tree. These main limbs should begin around ten (10) to fifteen (15) feet from the ground. All lower branches should be considered temporary for proper trunk development and to make street and sidewalk clearance easier to maintain. Select the strongest and sturdiest ones, and prune away competing branches. Make sure the branches you select are well-spaced along the main stem, with only one branch at each level. Favor branches that form a wide angle with the main stem, as these will have the strongest attachments.
  • When pruning a branch off, do not leave a stub! Always remove the entire branch, but take care that you do not sever the thickened, collar-like area at the base of the branch, as this is crucial when the tree begins to seal its wound. Improper pruning cuts are more likely to lead to pest infestation, disease, rot, or even tree death.
  • Be careful when removing large branches, so they do not break before you are done cutting them, tearing the bark as they fall and creating a large wound. Cut such branches with a 3-step process as shown in the accompanying diagram.
  • Do not prune oak trees from April through July as wounds made at that time will attract the beetles that spread oak wilt disease.

When hiring a contractor for tree work, it is important to hire someone who is qualified for the job. The City of Decorah recommends an ISA Certified Arborist for any tree work. Credentials generally mean a more professional and qualified individual is doing the work.

For more information, please contact City Forester Sam Hogenson at 563-277-5153 or by e-mail at Additional information is also available on the Decorah Tree Board website at

This is an official city press release.  Modifications of any kind are prohibited without express written consent of the author.  Any reprint or broadcast of this information must include this entire communication.


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