ASHES TO ASHES
The race is on to save our Ash trees! The Emerald Ash Borer first reared its green head in Connecticut in 2012, and has the potential to infest and kill nearly 10,000 trees in Hartford alone, and millions across the state!
The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an Asian insect first identified in Michigan in 2002, and it has become one of the most destructive forest insects to invade the U.S. The epidemic has killed off tens of millions of ash trees, and with the ability to kill a forest of healthy trees in a half a dozen years, this insect species is threatening large scale decimation of our ash population. Kirby C. Stafford III, the state entomologist, has predicted Connecticut will lose “almost all of our ash trees” as a result of the infestation.
Outside of Connecticut, the invasive species has spread to ash trees throughout the Northeast. New Hampshire has seen infestations as early as 2013, and Vermont has become the 32nd state in the country become infested with a patch near Groton State Forest. The ash tree is a fast growing tree and used as lumber for construction, cabinetry and more providing a sustainable industry for land owners, loggers, builders, furniture makers and artisans alike. A loss of the species could create job loss for many in the Northeast.
In Hartford, Emerald Ash Borer was first discovered at Keney Park in 2015. Today, dozens of infested ash trees have been scheduled for removal in the past year alone, and thousands more are at risk across the city. Infested and damaged ash trees can be found along public and private areas, which could endanger or damage people, property, or critical infrastructure. In order to maintain public safety, it is critical to prevent further infestation. Fortunately, there is still hope for our ash trees.
In a recent article from the Hartford Courant, Hartford’s Tree Advisory Commission chairman, Jack Hale, has said 60 ash trees around Hartford are currently receiving pesticide treatments in a pilot program meant to protect some of the remaining trees. The treatments need to be repeated for as long as a decade to be effective in protecting an individual ash tree, so the repeated treatments could conjure up a hefty price tag in the future. The all hands on deck effort is being coordinated by the City Forester and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and is currently being paid for by Massachusetts-based Arborjet, a company that makes a pesticide to protect ash trees from EAB. An additional set of trees are also receiving treatment through resources such as the Parks Trust Fund. With time and careful monitoring, perhaps we can limit the impact of the EAB’s relentless invasion.
Want to learn more about what you can do to help save the ash trees? You can visit Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station or the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. And remember: Don’t Move Firewood and to buy it where you burn it!
(Photograph and maps courtesy of CAES and USDA Forest Service)