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Emerald Ash Borer: An economic, aesthetic burglar
By SUSAN MYKRANTZ
Ohio Correspondent

WOOSTER, Ohio — Since the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) wormed its way onto U.S. soil in 2002, it has killed off 25 million ash trees and the toll continues to mount, according to Marianne Prue, with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry.

Prue told a group of woodlot owners, timber buyers, mill owners, service foresters, extension and other industry people attending an informational meeting on the Emerald Ash Borer that 40,000 square miles in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Maryland and Canada have been affected by the bug.

The meeting, sponsored by the EAB Task Force and Ohio State University Extension offices in Wayne and Medina counties was held in the Administration Building at the Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center.

Prue said that the economic and environmental impact from the insect has been devastating. Ohio’s forests contain 3.8 billion Ash trees.

One out of 10 trees in Ohio is an Ash tree. They are one of the most common species in timber sales, in fact, 7.5 percent of all the trees going through Ohio sawmills are Ash trees. Lumber prices are depressed because loggers and mills don’t want the frustration of handling of Ash trees. She estimates that the EAB has resulted in a loss of $200 million in potential sales for Ash wood.

The nursery industry has been severely impacted by the insect, according to Prue. In 1998, 27,000 Ash trees were sold for use in landscaping and urban forestry projects. Today, a few Ash trees are being sold, but most of the trees that were in nursery stock have been destroyed or donated to research projects.

“The Emerald Ash Borer has been devastating to communities, not only aesthetically, but economically as well,” Prue said. “Ash trees are one of the most common tree species in the urban forest. Cities use them on tree lawns, in their parks and residents use them in their front yards.”

Aesthetically, the devastation from the insect has resulted in the loss of trees in parks, tree lawns and landscaping around the municipalities. From an economic aspect, the municipalities’ budgets have been impacted because of the labor needed to remove and dispose Ash trees.

As a result, regular pruning, planting and other tree maintenance is getting neglected in order for this problem to be taken care of. An even greater challenge is finding enough people to do the work because the demand for tree removal has increased.

The challenge, according to Prue is not only the fact that EAB can show up at anytime, but it is hard to diagnose.

“Everyone is at risk for Emerald Ash Borer,” she said. “You need to assess your risk for infestation and create a management plan so you are prepared for Emerald Ash Borer. Ash trees should be evaluated and identified according to location, size and condition. Inspect Ash trees when you are pruning or removing trees. Your management plan should prioritize the removal of infected trees and develop a strategy for replacing the trees with a variety of different species.”

For details, go to www.emeraldashborer.info or www.ashalert.osu.edu or www.ohioagriculture.gov/eab or the Ohio EAB Task Force at 1-888-OHIO-EAB.

This farm news was published in the Jan. 3, 2007 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.

1/3/2007