Plan being formulated to save ash trees hereAs snow here covers nearly 10,000 ash trees in the dead of winter, City Forester Vern Quam and other officials in the state are formulating plans to save them from an insect that fits on a fingernail. The emerald ash borer is a tiny, metallic-green Asian beetle poised to destroy legions of ash trees across the U.S.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
As snow here covers nearly 10,000 ash trees in the dead of winter, City Forester Vern Quam and other officials in the state are formulating plans to save them from an insect that fits on a fingernail.
The emerald ash borer is a tiny, metallic-green Asian beetle poised to destroy legions of ash trees across the U.S.
While the male beetle chews foliage on the trees, the female lays her eggs in bark crevasses or branches after mating. After hatching, the larvae chew through the bark and rob the tree of nutrients, which ultimately kills the tree.
The bug has spread from the Detroit area in 2002 to St. Paul, Minn., last May as well as 11 other states and two provinces. Because the pest is new to the area, Quam is researching as many facts as he can before finalizing a plan for Jamestown.
Some chemical companies claim products they sell can stop the EAB, but independent research from universities in Michigan and Ohio has yet to be completed, he said.
“Nobody on the research side, nobody has come through and said that ‘this is the way to do it and we have the numbers to prove it,’” said Lance Brower, North Dakota State University Extension agent.
Insecticides like imidacloprid and emamectin benzoate have shown control over EAB from poor to outstanding. Plus more data is being collected by universities every year, said Joe Zeleznik, NDSU Extension forester.
Zeleznik recommends people with ash trees hold off treating them with chemicals until the pest is known to be in the area.
Fargo has started to remove ash trees that are declining or in bad locations in anticipation of the insect, he said.
About 3,000 ash trees line boulevards in Jamestown and about 7,000 more rest on private lots and by bodies of water, Quam said.
Brower estimates the removal cost for the 3,000 Jamestown ash trees to amount to millions of dollars, not counting replanting or purchasing new ones. Some of the trees may also have economic value if they provide shade for homes or increase property values.
Cooperation among landowners, volunteers and nurseries is key prior to the arrival of EAB so efforts and responses can be coordinated, Quam said. He is also working on a community plan that other cities can borrow from to form their own plans
The EAB community plan will be for cities from 100 people to about 30,000 people. Communities will able to use the plan to combat the EABs as they spread, Quam said.
“The challenge we’re facing with EAB is nobody knows when it’s going to arrive,” Zeleznik said.
Communities may make changes to the community plan based on resources and priorities, he said.
Since the beetles can only fly a quarter of a mile on their own, the main way their infestation is spread is through infested firewood, Quam said. Officials agree that not transporting firewood across state lines is the best way to delay the ash borers’ arrival.
Zeleznik said no state law is in place about transporting firewood, but certain organizations like the North Dakota Forestry Service and the Army Corps of Engineers prohibit out-of-state firewood on land they manage.
Next week, Quam will attend the annual North Dakota Urban and Community Forestry Association conference in Fargo to share EAB knowledge with other experts.
Also at the conference, Zeleznik will discuss the potential economic impact EAB can have on small towns after he conducted a study of Beach, New Town, Belfield and Carrington.
More discussion on EAB in Jamestown will take place at February’s Shade Tree Committee meeting, which has not been set. Quam also plans to host public meetings in spring.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com