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Small green menace heading our way


CHATHAM–Deirdre Henderson, the Town of Chatham’s liaison to the county Environmental Management Council, reported to the town board last month that emerald ash borers (EAB) are definitely coming to the county and will eventually kill off the ash trees here.

“It’s not if it comes, but when,” she told the board at the regular meeting Thursday, September 19 in her report on the invasive beetle species. According to the state Department of Environmental Conservation website,, ash borer infestations have killed 50 million ash trees in the United States since the insect arrived here from Asia in 2002, and all types of ash trees are affected, with trees usually dying in two to four years.

Ms. Henderson warned the board that among the consequences of the death of the trees is the prospect of dead trees and branches falling on roads and the possibility of more flooding. “Forests are essential for flood mitigation,” she said at the meeting.

Currently there is no way to halt the advance of the insect, but the DEC is monitoring the migration of the half-inch long insect. Ms. Henderson said emerald ash borers (Agrilus planipennis) have already been found in Greene County.

In an email to The Columbia Paper David Chinery, the horticulture educator at the Rensselaer County office of the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE), said ash trees comprise about 7% of the forests in Columbia and Rensselear counties. “Also consider that there are many ash as street trees, in parks, in home landscapes and the loss of these will have a big impact,” he wrote.

Marilyn Wyman of the Columbia-Greene Counties CCE office believes that ash could account for as much as 10% of the local forest species. Also by email, Ms. Wyman said that ash was the tree used to replace elm in municipalities after Dutch elm disease destroyed elms. “Unfortunately ash limbs become brittle when they die and pose a potential liability in more concentrated urban population areas,” she wrote.

Mr. Chinery stressed the importance of not moving firewood around the state. There is already a moratorium on moving ash wood out of the state.

According to the DEC website there are several moratoriums on transporting firewood within the state because of invasive bugs. The regulation prohibits the import of firewood into the state unless it has been heat treated to kill pests. The DEC also restricts transportation of untreated firewood to less than 50 miles from its source.

“Columbia County has quite a few camps/campgrounds… so this is something people really need to be aware of,” he wrote.

Anyone transporting firewood in the state must have a receipt or label that lists the site that was the source of the wood. Firewood is treated by raising the core temperature of the wood to 160 degrees F for 75 minutes, according to the DEC website.

The CCE will host an information update on the emerald ash borer Wednesday, October 23 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Agroforestry Resource Center in Greene County. Mark Whitmore from Cornell, who is working on this issue statewide, will be presenting, along with others from the DEC, the state Department of Agriculture and Markets and others. For more information call the CCE at 518 622-9820 ext 0.

The DEC has an EAB and Firewood hotline at 1-866-640-0652.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email


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