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Ash trees fate sealed by invasive insect

Jun 13, 2023 1:03 pm

Elias Sorich reports for the Times Union that in Ulster County from Kingston to Saugerties and over to Phoenicia, 99 percent of adult ash trees have died as of last year because of the emerald ash borer, an insect native to East Asia that was first detected in New York state in 2009. Charles Canham, senior scientist emeritus at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, says it is only a matter of time before most of the ash trees in New York, and North America, are gone. Canham said, “At this point, most adult white ash across its entire range, which spreads from northern Maine out to Oklahoma and Texas, I expect most of them to die,” he said. “Some will survive because the insects won’t find them all. Isolated individuals will survive. But I would not be surprised if we lose 80-90 percent of adult white ash trees.” Most of the dead trees are still standing, and when they fall they may cause more problems. “It’s a big problem for private landowners, for utilities, for anybody who’s managing public areas. And I think it’s going to continue to be a big problem for quite some time,” said Jason Denham, a forester with the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Bureau of Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. “There are a lot of ash trees around hiking trails, picnic areas, campsites, homes and power lines. I’ve talked with private homeowners who have 30 dead ash trees on their small property. It’s not financially feasible for them to have them all taken down.” And the trees did provide air quality help and heat mitigation, but won't when they die. Canham said, “We’ve only got 15 to 20 common tree species in the Northeastern U.S..... We’re whittling that list down. Every decade, we’re losing another player on the stage. … I find that both ethically and ecologically alarming.” Read more about this story in the Times Union.

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