If Not Stopped, Insect Can Kill All Ash Trees in Md, USA
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Ash trees in the forested areas of the Clinton, Brandywine area of Prince George's County are now being cut as part of the plan to eliminate the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), an invasive beetle that kills ash trees. Area residents can expect ash trees in neighborhoods within the infested zone to be removed beginning in the next week or so. A third public meeting is being planned to reach out to residents in the affected areas before neighborhood tree cutting begins. Tree removal must be completed by March 31, before the emerald ash borer emerges from the trees.
"Efforts to eliminate the emerald ash borer before it can kill our valuable ash trees and spread to other areas on the East Coast are well underway," said Carol Holko, of the Maryland Department of Agriculture and leader of the state's Emerald Ash Borer Eradication Project. "This is a major cooperative effort among the state, county and federal governments, conservation organizations and area residents that is necessary because of the destruction the emerald ash borer could inflict if it is not stopped now."
Eradication plans include the removal of all ash trees within a 1.5 mile zone around each ash tree found to be infested with the beetle, the chipping of all cut trees to a size of less than one inch in any two directions, a quarantine prohibiting people from moving any ash wood and any hardwood firewood out of Prince George's County, and three years of intensive surveillance to ensure no emerald ash borer remain. It is estimated that eradication efforts will cost upwards of $4 million in federal funding.
"While there is a quarantine to prevent the movement of ash wood and hardwood firewood out of Prince George's County, stopping the beetle will take more than regulations," said Holko. "Everyone can help by being an ambassador: watch for and report symptoms, don't move ash wood, don't plant new ash trees south of Rt. 4 in the county for now, and spread the word about the emerald ash borer, the quarantine, and the perils of moving hardwood firewood."
What is at stake if the emerald ash borer isn't stopped? - The emerald ash borer is responsible for the destruction of some 25 million ash trees in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois where it has become established. In Maryland, ash is the most common street tree in Baltimore, making up about 10 percent of total trees. Ash accounts for over three percent of trees in naturally wooded area in Baltimore and surrounding counties. USDA has estimated that losses could reach almost $300 million in the Baltimore area alone. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources also estimates that about 20 percent of our streamside trees, vital to the health of the Chesapeake Bay, are ash trees. U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that at the national level, if the emerald ash borer went unchecked in the lower 48 states, the undiscounted loss could range from $20 - $60 billion dollars. Ash wood is used for all traditional applications of hardwood from flooring and cabinets to baseball bats.
The emerald ash borer threatens to kill all ash trees in Maryland and ultimately the United States if not stopped. Maryland is the farthest, and only non-contiguous, of the infested states. Many exotic pests such as the emerald ash borer, which doesn't move much farther than ½ mile per year on its own, can be carried on infested wood by humans hundreds and even thousands of miles to new areas.
For more information about the emerald ash borer and the Maryland quarantine and eradication program, visit the national coordinated emerald ash borer web site, http://www.emeraldashborer.info and click on the "Maryland" link, or go directly to http://www.mda.state.md.us/plants-pests/eab.
To report signs of the emerald ash borer or to request further information, contact the University of Maryland Home and Garden Information Center at 800-342-2507 or the Maryland Department of Agriculture at 410-841-5920.