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For Release: Thursday, September 27, 2012

Emerald Ash Borer Confirmed in Tioga County

EAB Found as Part of DEC's 2012 Trapping Program

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in Tioga County has been confirmed by the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens confirmed today. The EAB was found in a DEC-deployed trap two miles from the Pennsylvania border and six miles from the Chemung County border in the southwestern corner of Tioga County. Chemung County and all of Pennsylvania are under state and Federal EAB quarantine. A single adult EAB was found in one of the thousands of purple detection traps that are placed around the state this summer.

"With this year's EAB detection trapping season rapidly coming to a close, we are working closely with our sister-agency, the Department of Agriculture and Markets and other stakeholders to examine the information derived from this year's trapping to determine appropriate quarantine boundaries moving forward," Commissioner Joe Martens said.

With the confirmation of EAB in Tioga County, New York now has 13 counties where EAB has been found. Most of the infested areas are small and localized, while more than 98 percent of New York's forests and communities are not yet infested.

Mark Whitmore, Forest Entomologist at Cornell University said, "Now is the time to plan and prepare for the economic impacts that homeowners, forest owners and communities will undoubtedly feel. Everyone should know if they have ash trees, what they plan to do once EAB arrives. This is especially true for municipal officials, where dead and dying ash trees on public property will expose local governments to significant damage, cost and liability. Protective chemical treatment is possible for individual trees, however it is currently recommended to only treat trees that are within 10 miles of a known infestation. Check the DEC website for maps of the infested areas." State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine said, "At this time, we are working with DEC to consider a quarantine configuration that makes the most sense given the continued spread of EAB in New York." The trap that detected the EAB beetle was deployed by DEC as part of the agency's continuing Slow Ash Mortality (SLAM) efforts, which include monitoring uninfested areas for early-detection of signs of EAB presence. DEC's early detection trapping efforts are supported by APHIS, which also contracts with a New York forestry consulting firm to deploy additional EAB traps in other counties outside the existing quarantines.

Over the past several years, the purple traps have been deployed by DEC and APHIS statewide during the summer months to help detect any new infestations of the insect. Following the confirmation in Tioga County, Mark Whitmore did an initial inspection of the area and has not yet identified any trees with signs of infestation. DEC staff will expand survey efforts over the next several months to look for any ash trees that may be infested to determine if this pest has become established in the area.

DEC's SLAM strategy, to slow the spread of EAB within the state and its devastating economic and environmental impacts, encompasses a variety of approaches, including removing infested trees, defining and monitoring infestation boundaries more precisely and researching insecticides and organisms that kill pests.

The EAB is a small but destructive beetle that infests and kills North American ash tree species, including green, white, black, and blue ash. Damage from EAB is caused by the larvae, which feed in tunnels just below the ash tree's bark. The 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.

The first detection of EAB in New York was in the town of Randolph, Cattaraugus County, in June 2009. Since then, infestations were later discovered in seven more counties in Western New York and five in the Hudson Valley. Twenty counties in New York are under state and Federal EAB quarantines. 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.

Communities face particular risks, as ash is a common street and park tree; and green ash, in particular, has been widely planted as an ornamental tree in yards. Efforts like DEC's SLAM initiative can significantly delay the loss of ash trees and the subsequent costs for their removal and replacement.

In 2008, New York adopted regulations that ban untreated firewood from entering the state and restrict intrastate movement of untreated firewood to no more than a 50-mile radius from its source. This was implemented 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. Because of the detection of EAB in Tioga County, DEC is asking for the public's help in limiting spread of EAB by not moving ash logs, or firewood north or east out of Tioga County, to other counties not under EAB quarantine.

DEC urges residents to watch for signs of infestation in ash trees. To learn more about EAB and the firewood regulations, visit DEC's website. Woodlot owners and municipalities can contact the nearest DEC Forestry Office, for technical assistance and forest management recommendations to prepare for the threat of EAB in their area. Forest landowners can request a DEC Forester visit their woodlot and develop a free Forest Stewardship Plan. This plan would address the landowner's objectives and discuss how the arrival (or proximity) of the EAB could impact the owner's forest resources. Forest owners can schedule a site visit by contacting their local DEC Forestry office.

To report signs of EAB, or ash trees showing symptoms of EAB attack, call DEC's emerald ash borer hotline at 1-866-640-0652 or submit an EAB report on DEC's website.

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