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Fort Drum foresters spread awareness of invasive emerald ash borer (VIDEO)

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FORT DRUM — Military and civilian conservationists are tagging ash trees on post in an effort to raise awareness about the emerald ash borer.

Though the bug has not been observed here, it has been found in 15 counties across New York and several other states since it arrived in the United States from eastern Asia in 2002. The insects burrow into the trees and feed on tissue until the tree cannot move nutrients.

“They kill them,” said Travis R. Ganter, who tracks invasive species for the post’s Forestry Department.

Mr. Ganter said ash trees make up about 10 percent of the trees on the post, which are currently being counted as part of an ongoing survey. The tree makes up about 7 percent of the state’s forests.

Shelby A. Alavekios, an education and outreach coordinator for the Nature Conservancy that coordinates efforts with the St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management, said the tagging on post is a continuation of an awareness project that started last year in St. Lawrence County.

“We’re trying to keep it out of here,” she said. The orange tag includes information about how people can help researchers track the insect.

When the tree becomes infested with the insect and its larvae, it usually dies over a period of two to four years. Common signs of an appearance from the borer include curved markings under the tree’s bark and exit holes from where they leave the tree.

Threats to the trees from the insect have brought collaboration between the government and private environmental groups, along with industries that rely on the tree’s wood.

“It’s not good for our economy, it’s not good for our forests and it’s possibly a human health hazard,” Mrs. Alavekios said.

Mr. Ganter explained the collaboration between government and private entities was important, as budgets tightened across the board.

“That’s what it’s all about, getting everybody together,” he said. The tags will remain on the trees through this fall.

The efforts to fight the invasive insect have also made their way to Capitol Hill, including the office of U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting more money to fight the spread of the insect based on its proliferation in the state.

The insects are primarily spread through the movement of firewood, and they have been found in Cattaraugus, Ulster, Greene, Livingston, Monroe, Steuben, Genesee, Erie, Orange, Albany, Niagara, Dutchess, Tioga, Delaware and Otsego counties since it was first discovered in the state in 2009. The insect has also spread to more than 15 other states, along with the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

Video of the tagging work on post can be found at http://wdt.me/Dzd3Aq.

NOTE: The story has been updated to correctly list Mrs. Alavekios’s title.


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