The results of a survey charting the spread of the emerald ash borer in Akwesasne have raised legitimate concerns.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Environment Division conducted the survey in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It showcased the damage being done by this insect.

“The purpose of the survey was to determine the extent of emerald ash borer infestation for the development of plans that will help mitigate its impact on the community of Akwesasne. The survey found that the emerald ash borer is spreading from the northwest to the southeast at an increasing rate, with the greatest densities now located in the areas of Raquette Point and Rooseveltown,” according to a story published Aug. 11 in the Watertown Daily Times. “The infestation is projected to continue increasing over the next few years and will affect 90 percent of all ash trees in Akwesasne. As the emerald ash borer spreads, public hazards will be posed when limbs become brittle and break off before the tree eventually falls.”

This pest has been confounding state conservation authorities for the past decade and even longer in other parts of the country.

“The emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle from Asia that infests and kills North American ash species including green, white, black and blue ash. All of New York’s native ash trees are susceptible to EAB,” according to information on the website for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. “Signs of infection in the tree canopy include dieback, yellowing and browning of leaves. Increased woodpecker activity is often the first sign of an EAB infestation. This activity can lead to ‘blonding’ or large strips of bark falling off. On the trunk and branches, look for small, D-shaped holes that are left by emerging beetles. When the tree’s bark splits or falls off, S-shaped larval galleries may be visible.

“Adult EABs typically fly less than half a mile from their emergence tree,” the website reports. “Most long-distance movement of EAB has been directly traced to ash firewood or ash nursery stock. Other untreated ash wood, wood chips greater than 1 inch and ash product movement (logs, lumber, pallets, etc.) generally present lesser risks. Wood chips less than 1 inch or mulch are considered to pose little risk of movement. New York state currently has a regulation restricting the movement of firewood to protect our forests from invasive pests.”

The Tribe’s Environment Division has implemented a program to help control the infestation. This entails “the safe removal and replacement of ash trees located alongside Akwesasne’s roadways, particularly along Route 37,” according to the Times story.

The Environment Division is asking property owners along Route 37 if they would agree to have ash trees removed and replaced with another type of tree. These may include maple, oak, hop hornbeam, blue beech, sassafras, hickory, horse chestnut, patriot elm, flowering crab, hawthorn, catalpa and osage orange, depending on soil conditions, the story reported.

Landowners are responsible for maintaining and caring for the replacement trees along with any remaining ash trees. The good news is that property owners have until Sept. 30 to request an ash tree be removed and replaced at no charge.

This is a wonderful offer by the Tribe, and homeowners in Akwesasne should take advantage of it. Call the Tribe’s Environment Division at 518-358-5937, or visit its office at 449 Frogtown Road for more information.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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