Secure the borders!

A representative of the state Department of Environmental Conservation holds dead emerald ash borer beetles. Watertown Daily Times

If local authorities want to declare a legitimate emergency on our borders, here’s one.

Representatives of the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced last month that they found evidence of the emerald ash borer in Jefferson County. Samples from two trees — one in Clayton and the other in Watertown — tested positive for the pest.

“Presence of the emerald ash borer, which kills ash trees, has been confirmed in 51 other counties, including St. Lawrence, Franklin and Oswego counties,” according to a story published Oct. 25 in the Watertown Daily Times. “The emerald ash borer, native to Asia, is less than an inch long, has metallic green wing covers and either a copper or purple abdomen, according to the DEC. It lays eggs between layers of bark and in bark crevices, and the larvae that hatch from them feed on the inner bark. The larvae create S-shaped galleries that [kill] ash trees by cutting off their nutrient flow. Emerging adults leave behind small, D-shaped exit holes in the outer bark of ash tree branches and trunks, according to the DEC. A serpentine gallery of emerald ash borer larvae destroyed the cambium layer of the Watertown ash tree, and part of its upper canopy had died back, said city planner Michael DeMarco. The conditions of the tree were pinpointed two weeks ago, but the DEC’s Albany office needed to receive a sample and it had to be evaluated before the presence of the invasive beetle could be confirmed.”

The intrusion of this invasive species doesn’t result from their efforts. Unsuspecting residents may transport them here without realizing it.

“Adult emerald ash borer beetles typically fly less than half a mile from ‘their emergence tree,’ according to the DEC, but any beetles that have traveled further have been connected with ash firewood and ash nursery stock,” the story reported. “Mr. DeMarco said the beetle also has traveled via movement of untreated firewood, although the DEC has firewood regulations to prevent the spread of invasive species. Dense ash tree clusters grow in the northern portions of Jefferson County and along Lake Ontario and the Black River, according to the DEC. They have also been used for shading along roadsides.”

The emerald ash borer has joined a long list of invasive species plaguing Northern New York by land, sea and air.

Efforts have been underway to prevent the Asian carp from making its way into the Great Lakes and eventually to this region. Double-crested cormorants threaten fish populations in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. And zebra mussels can clog aquatic pipelines.

“With the recent discovery of spiny water flea and Asian clam in Lake George and the efforts of the Lake George Park Commission and local municipalities to reduce the likelihood of additional aquatic invasive species introductions, the subject of AIS spread prevention has received much media attention,” according to the DEC’s website. “As with many controversial issues, opinions vary on the specific risk that each of these AIS represent to NY waters and the best techniques to combat this risk.”

People can bring invasive species into the north country in tree logs destined for fireplaces and on marine vessels. The state has regulations for preventing such occurrences, and residents should familiarize themselves with these rules.

Securing our borders from invasive species will preserve the natural wonders indigenous to Northern New York. We all have a stake in this campaign and should commit ourselves to ensuring it succeeds.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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