Otsego County Conservation Association assists with emerald ash borer awareness efforts

By WKTV News

ONEONTA, N.Y. - On Thursday, May 26, the Otsego County Conservation Association teamed up with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation staff and educators from The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development to identify and “tag” ash trees within Oneonta’s Neahwa and Wilber parks.

The tagging is part of a local awareness initiative related to a larger, statewide effort to monitor and curtail the advance of the emerald ash borer, an invasive wood-boring beetle. Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week was held May 22-28 to encourage state residents and visitors to become better educated about the emerald ash borer and the destruction it causes to trees. Tens of millions of ash trees have been killed in the United States by the EAB and all of the ash trees in New York are currently at risk.

According to New York State Forester Robert Davies, “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.”

Symptoms of EAB infestation include dieback of the upper and outer crown, sprouting at the base and/or main stem of the tree, vertical splits in the bark, and woodpecker feeding in the upper regions of the tree.

In addition to posting signs and tying ribbons around approximately 3,000 ash trees along streets and in parks statewide, the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service is currently overseeing the placement of purple panel traps throughout New York State to help locate new EAB infestations. According to DEC staff, the purple color and an attractant (hexanol, naturally occurring in ash bark) lure EAB into the box, from which they cannot escape.

DEC is conducting surveys to find and cut infested trees and then chipping them to destroy the beetles inside, according to a recent press release. 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 is said to dramatically reduce the rate of spread of the infestation and keep it in a location where the trees with beetles in them can be targeted.

The identification tags in Neahwa and Wilber parks, hung with purple ribbons, will remain through the month of June in order to draw attention to the EAB program and the trees themselves.

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