In October, representatives of the state Department of Environmental Conservation revealed that the emerald ash borer has increased its presence in Northern New York.
Over the past 17 years, emerald ash borers have made their way from the Midwest to the East Coast. They have been found in 51 of the state’s counties, including Franklin, Oswego and St. Lawrence.
And now they’ve entered Jefferson County. The invasive pests were found in trees in Clayton and Watertown last year. It’s appropriate that officials in Watertown have begun discussions about how to respond.
Members of the City Council were briefed on what the city can do about the emerald ash borer, according to a story published Saturday in the Watertown Daily Times.
“The first two trees infected by the insect were found near the Watertown Fire Station on Massey Street,” the story reported. “If left untreated, the invasive species could jeopardize about 430 trees on city property before it’s done. Some ash trees could be saved if the city decides to use an expensive trunk injection treatment that could cost the city about $10 for every diameter inch of a tree. The treatments would need to be applied every two or three years.”
It’s important for city authorities to come up with a plan of action: They should map out where ash trees in Watertown exist and decide how to deal with the invasion. It may be that the city needs to cut down ash trees in one region to preserve others. And if they have the funding, perhaps officials can authorize the injection treatment.
One critical part of this plan must be to raise awareness of how to curtail the spread of this menace. Residents need to know how they can prevent widening the area where emerald ash borers have taken up residence.
Emerald ash borers don’t travel very far on their own; like other invasive species, they hitch a ride. The state has regulations to thwart their advancement. One way to do this is to obtain firewood locally rather than transporting it from outside areas.
City officials need to develop a campaign to let people know how to stop emerald ash borers in their tracks. We all have a role to play in keeping the damage to a minimum, so let’s familiar ourselves with the best practices for doing so.