Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week will continue through Saturday, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
In observance, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a proclamation urging all New Yorkers to exercise environmental stewardship to protect trees from infestation. State residents and visitors are encouraged to learn as much as possible about the emerald ash borer and the destruction it causes to trees.
"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," said Joe Martens, state DEC commissioner. "With Memorial Day marking the beginning of the camping season, it is important to remind those traveling in New York State to only use local firewood. By stopping the human transport of this insect and increasing early detection of new infestations, we can greatly reduce the economic and environmental damages this pest can cause."
As part of EAB Awareness Week, DEC, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and volunteers will post signs and tie ribbons on more than 6,000 ash trees along select streets and in parks around the state that are populated with ash trees.
The emerald ash borer, first discovered in New York in 2009, is an invasive insect that kills all types of ash trees. Eight counties in Western New York and six 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.
The state's emerald ash borer quarantine order was expanded through a state Department of Agriculture and Markets emergency rulemaking effective March 15 connecting two separate quarantine areas to make one uniform area encompassing all or part of 20 counties south of the state Thruway. The quarantine prohibits any movement of live emerald ash borers, in any life stage, from the site where they are found. This includes ash logs known or found to be infested from a woodlot, as well as infested firewood.
"The only way to effectively slow the spread of this pest is by raising awareness," said Robert Davies, state forester. "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."
DEC officials expect to announce the Request for Proposals for the next round of Urban & Community Forestry grants early this summer. Communities and non-profit organizations can apply for these grants to support emerald ash borer preparedness planning and response activities for their urban forests. Watch DEC's website for updates.
The DEC has adopted a strategy called Slow Ash Mortality to slow the spread of emerald ash borers within the state and mitigate its economic and environmental impacts. The strategy 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 DEC will place 1,000 purple panel traps in high-risk locations located near densely populated areas throughout the state. The traps have been used for the past several years and have been instrumental in identifying emerald ash borer infestations across the state.
DEC forest health crews are attacking the infestations in all affected counties and the U.S. Agriculture Department's Forest Service is actively participating in the efforts to slow the spread of the insect in the lower Hudson Valley. DEC is conducting surveys to find and cut infested trees and then chipping them to destroy the beetles inside. The 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. The 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.
To report possible infestations, fill out the Emerald Ash Borer Survey Form at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/72136.html. For more information, visit the DEC website and search "emerald ash borer," or call DEC's toll-free hotline at 866-640-0652.