For Release: Monday, May 23, 2011
DEC Announces Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week
Urges All Residents to Help Fight Infestation and Tree Damage
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Awareness Week will be held from May 22 - May 28, 2011 to encourage state residents and visitors to become better educated about the emerald ash borer and the destruction it causes to trees. In observance of EAB Awareness Week, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued a proclamation urging all New Yorkers to exercise environmental stewardship to protect trees from infestation that can be devastating to landscapes, habitats and forest product industries.
DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said, "New Yorkers have a shared commitment to stewardship of our environment. EAB is a destructive invasive species that threatens the health of our forests and our goal is to educate residents about how they can help protect our trees.
Robert Davies, New York State Forester said, "The only way to effectively slow the spread of this pest is by raising awareness. By encouraging people to not transport firewood, and to look for signs and symptoms of the EAB, DEC will be able to find infestations early and prevent them from rapidly spreading."
As part of EAB Awareness Week, DEC, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and volunteers will post signs and tie ribbons around approximately 3,000 ash trees along select streets and in parks around the state that are populated with ash trees. The City of Albany will have approximately 100 ash trees tagged with the signs beginning Monday, May 23rd. The signs will inform citizens that those ash trees, and all of New York State's 900 million ash trees, could be killed by the emerald ash borer.
The emerald ash borer, first discovered in New York in 2009, is an invasive insect that kills all types of ash trees. Five counties in Western New York and two in the Hudson Valley currently have infestations and state agencies are working diligently to stop the movement of beetles out of these areas in firewood and other wood products. Tens of millions of ash trees have been killed in the United States by the emerald ash borer and all of the hundreds of millions of ash trees in New York are at risk.
To help slow the spread of EAB, all citizens are asked to not move firewood and to look for and report the signs of the beetle on ash trees. Citizens should be aware of New York State's firewood regulations which restrict the movement of untreated firewood to 50 miles, and EAB quarantines, which prevent the spread of potentially infested materials.
In cooperation with the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), several partners are placing purple panel traps throughout the state to help find new infestations. "In coordination with the EAB trapping program, our outreach efforts are making the public aware of the need to assist us in detecting new EAB infestations" said Yvonne DeMarino, USDA-APHIS New York State Director, from the USDA-APHIS.
DEC forest health crews are attacking the infestations in all affected counties and the USDA Forest Service is actively participating in the efforts to slow the spread of this insect in the lower Hudson Valley. Terry Miller, US Forrest Service Field Representative, said, "The Forest Service recently partnered with the State of New York in its valiant effort to contain and limit the spread of Emerald Ash Borer in Kingston, NY. The timing of this Awareness Week right before the summer recreation season could not be better! Hopefully it will raise people's awareness of the danger of moving firewood. Kingston and the Hudson River are literally the front line in the Emerald Ash Borer's march eastward. We truly appreciate the effort the State of New York has made to curtail its spread into the New England states."
DEC is conducting surveys to find and cut infested trees and then chipping them to destroy the beetles inside. These crews are also preparing special trap trees in the infested areas so the beetles are enticed to stay nearby, where they can be easily destroyed next year. This technique dramatically reduces the rate of spread of the infestation and keeps it in a location where the trees with beetles in them can be identified.
Along with devastating environmental impacts of EAB infestations, the insect also causes economic hardships. Mark Whitmore, Forest Entomologist at Cornell University says, "The economic impact of EAB to New York's ash timber resources will be great but this impact is pale in comparison to potential tree removal and treatment costs incurred by homeowners and communities confronted with the public health hazard posed by countless dead ash trees. To help minimize these economic impacts we need to redouble our efforts to slow EAB spread so we have time for more public education and so communities can make plans to address these economically important issues."
For more information, visit the DEC website and search "emerald ash borer," or call DEC's toll-free hotline at 1-866-640-0652.