New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine today announced a new discovery of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) on the U.S. Military Academy at West Point campus in Orange County. The EAB is a small but destructive beetle that infests and kills North American ash tree species, including green, white, black, and blue ash.
Commissioner Martens said: “DEC, with its federal and state partners, is committed to working in the Hudson Valley and western New York, to slow the spread of EAB. Our collaborative Slow Ash Mortality initiative uses early detection, prevention, outreach and regulatory enforcement to slow the growth of EAB populations. Awareness and preparedness are the best defense available to stop the sprawl of EAB to new areas.”
An adult emerald ash borer was discovered on July 13, 2011 in an emerald ash borer purple prism trap that was hung in an ash tree at the West Point campus. The purple prism trap is a tool used to detect new emerald ash borer infestations. The emerald ash borer specimen was confirmed by USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) staff. An initial site investigation by DEC regional staff, Cornell University and West Point Natural Resources staff did not find any infested ash trees.
With this new detection confirmed, the state and federal emerald ash borer quarantine of Ulster and Greene County will be expanded to include Orange County. The quarantine restricts the movement of ash tree materials out of those counties to prevent human transport of the pest.
Commissioner Aubertine said: “New York’s extensive forest resources contribute to our local economies, communities and quality of life. As a state, we are dedicated to combating EAB while assuring that commerce in our nursery, landscape and forest products industries continues. Unfortunately, this pest is rapidly expanding its presence in our state despite our best efforts. At this time, we know of no way to eliminate EAB and thus our focus is on slowing its spread. We greatly appreciate the help of impacted industries and individuals in reporting and adjusting their behavior to be part of the solution.”
Yvonne DeMarino, State Plant Health Director for USDA APHIS, said: “The discovery of EAB at West Point, 35 miles south of the infestation in Ulster County discovered last year, is unfortunate, but not entirely unexpected. It highlights our concern that the movement of firewood and other host material poses a significant risk of spreading invasive forest pests like EAB around our state and to our neighbors.”
To help identify infested ash trees, West Point Natural Resources Staff have already girdled about half a dozen ash trees on the property, and placed ten additional purple prism traps in nearby trees. By girdling trees, which strips away a section of the bark, the tree will become more attractive to the beetle and make them easier to detect.
The West Point Natural Resources Branch said: “West Point recognizes early detection and intervention to be the most effective means of managing invasive species and is pleased to assist the State and Federal agencies involved with this effort.”
The first detection of EAB in New York was in the town of Randolph, Cattaraugus County, in June 2009. In 2010, infestations were discovered in six more counties in Western New York and the Hudson Valley, and an emerald ash borer quarantine was placed around eighteen counties. Last month, EAB was discovered in Erie County.
Since it was first discovered in Michigan in 2002, EAB has been responsible for the destruction of 70 million trees in the U.S. alone. New York has more than 900 million ash trees, representing about seven percent of all trees in the state, and all are at risk from EAB.
Damage from EAB is caused by the larvae, which feed in tunnels just below the ash tree’s bark. These tunnels disrupt water and nutrient transport, causing branches, and eventually the entire tree, to die. Adult beetles leave distinctive D-shaped exit holes in the outer bark of the branches and the trunk. Other signs of infestation include tree canopy dieback, yellowing, and extensive sprouting from the roots and trunk. Infested trees may also exhibit woodpecker damage from larvae extraction.
In 2008, New York adopted regulations that ban untreated firewood from entering the state and restricts intrastate movement of untreated firewood to no more than a 50-mile radius from its source. This was done as a precaution against the introduction and spread of EAB and other invasive species because of the documented risk of transmission by moving firewood. After more than three years of outreach and education efforts about the risks of moving firewood and the state’s regulation, DEC is increasing its enforcement efforts to prevent the movement of untreated firewood into and around New York.
DEC has adopted a strategy known as Slow Ash Mortality (SLAM). SLAM encompasses a variety of approaches to address EAB infestations, including removing infested trees, more precisely defining infestation boundaries, and researching insecticides and biocontrols (organisms that kill pests). The hope is that current research will lead to new ways to suppress EAB populations, minimize their spread and delay the death of ash trees. It is also hoped that SLAM will buy time for communities and forest owners to prepare for EAB’s threat and potential financial impacts.
DEC also urges citizens to watch for signs of infestation in ash trees. If damage is consistent with the known symptoms of EAB infestation, report suspected damage to the state by calling DEC’s emerald ash borer hotline and appropriate action will follow as time and resources allow. To learn more about emerald ash borer, the firewood regulation, or how you can help slow the spread, please call the toll free hotline at 1-866-640-0652 or visit: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7253.html.