Fate of town ash trees grim
“Bottom line is we are facing a problem. As you know trees are very good for our environment and we are in danger,” said Ruffino.
Comparing this situation to the October Storm, when several trees were destroyed in Lancaster and how the town was set back, Ruffino commented that this is going to be much worse.
“It has been confirmed that this epidemic is coming and the damage is going to happen,” added Ruffino.
Town of Lancaster Parks, Recreation, and Forestry General Crew Chief Terry McCracken said there are about 1,200 ash trees in the town.
“We really haven’t noticed the insects in our street trees, although, there are some hot spots on private land in the Town of Lancaster that have been detected,” remarked McCracken.
This exotic beetle insect was introduced into North America sometime in the 1990's. It was first reported killing ash trees in the Detroit and Windsor areas in 2002. Since then, infestations have been found throughout lower Michigan, Ohio, northern Indiana, the Chicago area, Maryland, and recently in Pennsylvania. Emerald ash borer was found in New York in the spring of 2009.
Emerald ash borer probably arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships or airplanes originating in its native Asia.
The adult beetles nibble on ash foliage but cause little damage. The larvae, the immature stage, feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients, effectively starving the ash tree. Trees attacked by the emerald ash borer die within one to three years, according to the national EAB information Web site.
The problem has caused regulatory agencies and the USDA to enforce quarantines and fines to prevent potentially infested ash trees, logs or hardwood firewood from moving out of areas where EAB occurs.
McCracken said that there are treatments that can be injected into the trees, which slows down the rate of time a tree will die, but in all actuate, all the ash trees will become infected and die.
“There is no getting around it. The idea of injecting the trees is part of a management program so that you don’t deal with all the trees dying at once. I don’t know if we can do it all internally, because there are a lot of trees,” said McCracken.
McCracken added that the two treatments called, IMA-jet or TREE-age, - both insecticides-must be applied by a certified applicator whether a tree is on town or residential property. IMA-jet treats for about a year and an half and Tree-age treats for about two years. Either can be applied prior to infestation or when insects are infesting the tree. The town does have a certified applicator.
“It is something that your average resident can’t do,” stressed McCracken.
To treat the tree, the applicator would drill small holes into the tree, and the number of holes is based on the size of the tree. So, the bigger the tree the more holes have to be drilled. Then they would insert a diaphragm into the tree and take a gun and inject the insecticide into the tree, said McCracken.
Ruffino commented that the town is taking the necessary preventive action and providing injects into the trees.
“It is at the point on how to slow it down, because there is no stopping it, added Ruffino.
“We started last year injecting some trees and we plan on continuing to inject until we come up with a concrete plan on how to banish the whole situation,” added McCracken.
For a description of what the EAB insect looks like visit www.emeraldashborer.info/identifyeab.cfm.
The next Town of Lancaster Board meeting will be held at 8 p.m. Monday, March 5, in the town hall, 21 Central Ave., Lancaster.