ALBANY - An Emerald Ash Borer infestation was found in the Catskill Forest Preserve at a state-owned campground, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced recently.
The discovery was confirmed after a DEC employee recovered a single EAB beetle from a purple prism trap placed in DEC's Kenneth L. Wilson campground in the Town of Woodstock in Ulster County.
"Because of the close proximity to known infested areas, campers should not bring untreated firewood to any of the Catskill campgrounds," Martens said. "Untreated ash firewood that is brought into these campgrounds from as little as five miles away can greatly accelerate the spread of this insect and the death of the cherished ash trees that exist in the Catskill Preserve. Heat-treated firewood is the only firewood that is safe to transport because the heat eliminates any pests living inside the wood."
After EAB was first discovered in Ulster County near Kingston in 2010, state and federal agencies initiated an EAB quarantine, which restricts the movement of ash products and firewood out of the quarantined area. Although this infestation exists within the quarantined county, this detection lies about four miles west of the previously defined area of infestation. With this being the first time EAB has been found in a DEC campground, it highlights the threat EAB poses to New York campgrounds and the Catskill Forest Preserve.
The EAB is a small, but destructive, beetle that infests and kills North American ash tree species, including green, white, black and blue ash. DEC adopted a strategy, Slow Ash Mortality, or SLAM, to slow the spread of EAB within the state and its devastating economic and environmental impacts. SLAM encompasses a variety of approaches to address EAB infestations including removing infested trees, defining and monitoring infestation boundaries more precisely and researching insecticides and organisms that kill pests. The purple detection trap that was placed in Kenneth L. Wilson campground is part of DEC's ongoing SLAM initiative which enables DEC to detect new EAB infestations in high risk locations, such as campgrounds.
At this time, DEC is implementing a response plan to best manage this detection and its impacts at the campground and in nearby areas. The immediate plan has several elements, including inventorying all ash trees in this campground and nearby DEC campgrounds, assessing the health of these ash trees and conducting a thorough visual inspection for potential EAB infestation.
Once this information is gathered, dying or hazardous ash trees will be removed from high use areas such as campsites, roads and paths, which is consistent with DEC's protocol to continuously identify and remove hazard trees. In addition, similar to the SLAM activities that are already being conducted in other areas of infestation, DEC may create sinks by girdling select ash trees that lay outside high use areas of the campground. By girdling trees, which strips away a section of the bark, the tree will become more attractive to the beetle and make them easier to detect and can also control them from spreading outward to new areas.
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 other counties in Western New York and five in the Hudson Valley. Nineteen counties in New York are under state and federal EAB quarantines.
Since it was first discovered in Michigan in 2002, EAB has been responsible for the destruction of 70 million trees in the United States. 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. Green ash, in particular, has been widely planted as an ornamental tree in yards. Recent research papers have reported that the potential costs to municipalities from EAB could exceed $12 billion over the next 10 years. Efforts like DEC's SLAM initiative can significantly delay the loss of ash trees and the subsequent costs to communities for their removal and replacement.
In 2008, New York adopted regulations that ban untreated firewood from entering the state and restricts intrastate movement of untreated firewood to no more than a 50-mile radius from its source. This was done 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.
DEC urges residents to watch for signs of infestation in ash trees. To learn more about EAB and the firewood regulations, or to report suspected EAB damage, call DEC's EAB hotline at 1-866-640-0652 or submit an EAB report at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/72136.html.