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For Release: Friday, October 27, 2017

State Departments of Agriculture and Markets, Environmental Conservation, NYC Parks and Prospect Park Alliance Confirm Discovery of Emerald Ash Borer in Prospect Park, Brooklyn

State, City and Local Partners Take Action to Limit Spread of Invasive Pest EAB

Today the New York State Departments of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) and Environmental Conservation (DEC) confirmed the first-ever discovery of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in New York City. NYC Parks, DEC, DAM, and Prospect Park Alliance - the non-profit that cares for the park in partnership with the City - are taking immediate action to limit the spread of infestation and protect New York City's more than 51,000 ash trees. Of an initial survey of 10 suspected trees, three were confirmed to be infested by EAB by a Cornell University researcher. Three trees have been removed to date and additional trees will be removed over the winter.

EAB is a non-native species of beetle whose larvae kill trees by burrowing into the inner bark and thus interrupting the circulation of water and vital nutrients. EAB infested trees are characterized by thin crowns, sprouts on the trunks of the trees, and the signature d-shaped exit holes adult beetles leave on trees' bark. In addition, another sign of EAB is damage caused by woodpeckers as the birds forage for larvae. Woodpeckers peel off the darker, outer bark and expose the lighter, inner bark. EAB only affects ash trees, which constitute roughly three percent of NYC's street trees, three percent of trees in forested areas, and less than one percent of trees in landscaped parks according to recent estimates. EAB has been present in New York State since 2009.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Emerald Ash Borer is a threat to ash trees in both our forested and urban settings so it's critical we continue to monitor for affected trees as was done in Brooklyn. Working with our partners at DEC, NYC Parks and the Prospect Park Alliance, we will follow up on this new discovery through survey and additional testing, and adjust our efforts to combat this invasive species and slow its spread."

"DEC is concerned with these recent detections of emerald ash borer and is actively checking all EAB monitoring traps for new detections," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "The public can greatly assist in our efforts by paying close attention to signs of this invasive pest and reporting any detections to DEC's Forest Health Division. DEC staff will remain vigilant in our efforts to contain EAB."

"Thanks to NYC Parks' 2015 TreesCount Tree Census, we know how many street and park trees are ashes - which means we know how many trees are susceptible to infection," said Jennifer Greenfeld, NYC Parks' Assistant Commissioner for Forestry, Horticulture, and Natural Resources. "While EAB infection is a serious threat, it is fortunate that ash trees make up a very small proportion of trees under NYC Parks' care."

"The Emerald Ash Borer infestation was detected in Prospect Park thanks to vigilant monitoring of the tree population by Prospect Park Alliance arborists, a year round tree crew committed to the protection and preservation of the Park's 30,000 trees," said John Jordan, Director of Landscape Management for Prospect Park Alliance. "The Alliance will continue to monitor the ash trees in the Park, and will work closely with New York City Parks Department, USDA and DEC to continue tracking and responding to this infestation."

The joint management focuses on early detection and containment. The three-pronged approach includes:

  • Early detection and training - Establishment of a sample survey of streets and parks with ash records, and regular training for forestry staff to identify the signs and symptoms of an EAB infestation.
  • Treatment of healthy ash trees with injections of emamectin benzoate which provides protection for two to three years.
  • Removal and replacement of infested trees in poor condition over the next five years.

Parks and the Prospect Park Alliance will work together to determine the best combination of strategies over the next several weeks.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently awarded a $75,000 Urban Forestry Grant to the Prospect Park Alliance to conduct a tree inventory of Prospect Park. The inventory will include an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 trees in the landscaped areas of the park, representing about half of the total population. The tree inventory will include an invasive insect, pest, and disease detection survey by incorporating the USDA Forest Service early pest detection protocol (IPED).

Governor Cuomo increased funding for invasive species control to $13 million from the Environmental Protection Fund in the 2017-18 State Budget, including a $2 million grant program for communities and groups across New York. This funding is providing critical support for prevention and eradication activities through programs like the Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) that protect against threats to New York's biodiversity, economy, and human health.

Invasive species are detrimental because of their ability to reproduce quickly, outcompete native species, and adapt to new environments. Because invasive species did not evolve with the other species in their new location, they often do not have natural predators and diseases that would normally control their population within their native habitat. Economists estimate that invasive species cost the United States more than $120 billion in damages every year.

Homeowners who see signs of infestation on their property should report them immediately to DEC's EAB and Firewood hotline at 1-866-640-0652. Additional information about Emerald Ash Borer is available on DEC's website.

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