Volunteers sought to identify tree problemsAs the emerald ash borer threat lingers in Minnesota, one program aims to educate volunteers to take action first by becoming an early warning system. The First Detector Program was started by the National Plant Diagnostic Network in conjunction with the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
As the emerald ash borer threat lingers in Minnesota, one program aims to educate volunteers to take action first by becoming an early warning system.
The First Detector Program was started by the National Plant Diagnostic Network in conjunction with the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service.
In North Dakota the program is in conjunction with the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, North Dakota State University Extension Service and the North Dakota Forestry Association.
The program certifies people as volunteers who will be properly trained to indentify what’s abnormal in trees, how to tell the difference between healthy and non-healthy trees and how to take and report samples, said Lance Brower, NDSU Extension agent in Stutsman County.
“You’ll learn the steps of how you report it and who you report it to ...,” Brower said. “You are the city’s, the county’s, possibly the state’s first line of defense.”
Volunteers will be certified to indentify numerous diseases, fungi and pests, including the emerald ash borer, he said.
EAB is a destructive beetle that fits on a penny but has destroyed countless ash trees in 13 states and two Canadian providences since being introduced by accident in Michigan years ago.
“If you detect something early on you have a better chance of reducing economic impact,” said Kasia Kinzer, plant diagnostician at NDSU.
Brower and Kinzer are among a handful of certified instructors for the program with about 80 certified volunteers across the state.
The program came to North Dakota in 2004 and May in Jamestown will be the first time it will be taught anywhere other than Fargo, Brower said.
Once certified, volunteers will be able to use their certification anywhere in the U.S. They will also be updated from the North Dakota Department of Agriculture on the latest developments in diseases and invasive pests like EAB.
Brower and Kinzer suggest people who work outside or with plants would be interested in the free course.
“It’s going to be fun; it’s going to be hands on. You’re going to touch things, smell things, look at things,” Brower said.
Once certified, volunteers would be able to spend as much time as they prefer to inspect trees in the area, at the recommendation of Brower and City Forester Vern Quam.
Last year Brower and Quam inspected about 1,000 area trees with natural problems, diseases and pests, Brower said.
Quam expects an equal or greater amount this year because people are more aware of EAB.
The First Detector Program was started in 2002 following the 9/11 attacks as a way to monitor crops that were potentially at risk, Kinzer said.
First offered in North Dakota in 2004, it has since grown to not only cover crops but also trees and other plants, she said. Since then volunteers in the program have helped eliminate certain diseases such as a potato pathogen.
“The first detectors are basically the people out there in the fields, on the streets, in the trees,” Kinzer said. “They are the ones that are going to detect something unusual. They are the ones most likely to detect a high-risk pest.”
Even though Jamestown has EAB traps across town, Brower agrees dedicated people work best.
“There’s no trap in the world that does as good as eyes,” he said.
Brower plans to offer a free certification class in May. Those interested can call the NDSU extension office at 252-9030 with what times and dates work best.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org