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Ramblings 8/21

Here's a heads up about ash, in case you don't keep up on your invasive news.

There's a lovely little metallic-green beetle coming our way, only a half inch long, but big trouble. It was in western New York and now is in the Catskills, a little green alien that probably traveled to Michigan about 15 years ago from China. The larvae are presumed to have been in wooden shipping pallets.

There are 900 million white, black and green ash trees in New York State, but there won't be for very long. It is too late to do anything much about the Emerald Ash Borer, and where they strike, they kill every ash usually within two or three years. Fifty million have already died in the midwest. It may take 10 years to cause the complete devastation of ashes here in New York, unless native wasps that attack the larvae can be bred and released very quickly. Chemical treatment may save a few valued trees, but it will be expensive and will have to be done for years. ("Mountain ash" is not really ash and is not vulnerable.)

Ashes are only 7 percent of our forests, so that leaves plenty of species to fill in. But in the meantime, there will be a need for quick removal of hazard trees in public places. Luckily for us in the Adirondacks, we did not plant ashes along streets in the monocultures that many downstate towns did, to replace their dead elms. This time maybe arborists will hedge their bets by using many different species.

Foresters are suggesting townspeople go around roads and other public places with their GPS soon and locate every ash that will be a problem when it dies. (Geocachers, how about taking this project on?) Then town boards need to budget the money to pay for taking down some dead trees every year for a while. Laws might need to be enacted to allow for removing hazardous trees from private property along roads if, as in the case in a resort area like ours, the owners are not available to give their permission. Better yet would be that all owners give their permission ahead of time to towns for removal of dead ashes that will die.

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