Community News

Tiny insect will have a huge impact on New Jersey
8/17/2017 Volume XLVII, No. 33

In 10 years, most of New Jersey’s 24 million ash trees in forests - and countless others in neighborhoods, parks and backyards - will be dead.

“It’s dire,” says John Sacco, New Jersey’s State Forester.

New Jersey’s State Forester oversees everything from forest fires, state forests, local tree programs, education programs and forest stewardship to natural areas, forest diseases and rare plants. Now John Sacco has a new challenge.

An invasive insect known as the Emerald Ash Borer, or EAB, is gaining a foothold in this state we’re in after destroying hundreds of millions of ash trees in the Midwest. There’s no stopping the infestation, said Sacco, but it’s possible to save selected ash trees by treating them with an insecticide that kills the Emerald Ash Borer.

As New Jersey’s State Forester, Sacco is working to spread an unpleasant but necessary message: Local governments and homeowners must decide – the sooner the better - which ash trees to save and which to cut down.

In the following interview, John Sacco sat down with us to answer questions on what New Jersey residents need to know about this growing problem.

Q. What is the Emerald Ash Borer and where did it come from?

A. The EAB is a tiny beetle that came from Asia with wood products that were brought to the Great Lakes region. It started showing up in Michigan in the early 2000s and has been spreading ever since.

Q. How does the Emerald Ash Borer kill a tree?

A. Adult females deposit eggs in bark crevices or under bark flaps on the trunk. After the eggs mature, larvae burrow under the bark and feed on the cambium, which is the water and nutrient transporting layer of the tree. The tree can’t survive without the cambium.

Q. How many trees in New Jersey could the EAB potentially impact?

A. We have, in our forested lands, about 24 million ash trees. Every one of them will be affected. And that’s not counting the ash trees in our communities and neighborhoods. A lot of our street trees are ash trees. They’re good city trees because they can grow in soils that aren’t well drained and they tolerate soil compaction.

Q. What are the signs that an ash tree is affected by EAB?

A. The tree just starts looking bad. It starts thinning out at its crown and the leaves start turning yellow. You’ll see shredding bark and woodpecker holes. On the trunk, you may notice D-shaped holes where the insects exit.

Q. Is it possible to save a tree that’s infested with Emerald Ash Borer?

A. No. If you see a tree that’s in decline, it’s too late. We do not recommend treating a declining ash tree – it’s a waste of money.

Q. What is the New Jersey State Forester’s role in controlling the EAB blight?

A. We can’t stop it. What we can do is prepare for it and try to get the word out. There are two paths to take: start cutting ash trees down in a systematic manner or start treating them with insecticide. Treatment costs about $200 per tree, and they have to be treated every two years.

Q. Are ash trees being saved in New Jersey’s state parks?

A. At the state level, we’re concentrating on ash trees in high-use areas like picnic areas, parking lots, historic buildings, playgrounds and places where there are a lot of people walking. We’re treating some but removing others. If it’s a nice tree in a well-used area, we’ll try to keep it.

Q. What about ash trees in New Jersey forests?

A. There’s not much we can do in the forests except try to save selected populations. In addition to treating the more common ash, we’re trying to preserve a breeding population of pumpkin ash in Monmouth County to keep it viable. We’re also trying to preserve a stand of black ash in Sussex County. Pumpkin and black ash are rare in New Jersey.

Q. If millions of ash trees die in the forests, how will it affect ecology?

A. Ash has a pretty diffuse distribution in the forests of central and northern New Jersey; it co-exists with other trees. Losing the ash trees will cut down on forest diversity, but there are other trees that will come in to fill the niche. But there’s a danger that invasive plants will grow in the light holes where the ash trees have fallen down.

Q. Is “do nothing” an option in places outside the forests?

A. Over 99 percent of untreated ash trees in the landscape will eventually become infested and die from EAB, so doing nothing is not a good option for trees planted in yards, near homes, along streets, and in parks, playgrounds and campgrounds.

Q. What can municipalities do to address the EAB blight?

A. The state has funding for Community Forest Management Plans, allowing towns to inventory their trees and manage the treatment of ash trees. But there’s no funding for the actual treatment or removal of trees, so it could be a big budget item for some towns. That’s why it’s so important to start planning now.

Thank you to John Sacco for this sobering but informative message. To learn more about what you can do about the Emerald Ash Borer, and how to identify ash trees, go to the state’s website at www.emeraldashborer.nj.gov.

And for information about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, visit the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at info@njconservation.org.

POSTS

New Jersey's aging water infrastructure

The land before time: NJ's Kittatinny Ridge & Valley

While bats hibernate, scientists hope for survival

Natural Resource Damages fund new parks and preserves

Save menhaden, a humble but mighty fish

Ballot question approval would lock in environmental funds

Sandy Millspaugh: Conservation Trailblazer

Extreme hurricanes highlight concerns about climate change

'Head start' for corn snakes

Protecting the Highlands - it's the water

When you could walk from New Jersey to Morocco

A bold plan for the planet

New Jersey's energy future at a crossroads

Tiny insect will have a huge impact on New Jersey

Protect New Jersey's Pine Barrens

Enjoy New Jersey's forests!

Maine-to-Florida urban trail celebrates 25 years

Rare plants and animals need help!

Ban offshore drilling and seismic testing off NJ coast!

Summertime and the digging is easy

Is the elusive bobcat here to stay?

NJ water supply plan rings alarm bells

NJ's Piedmont: Formed by volcanoes and erosion

Defend public health and safety in state budget

'Magical' early 17-year cicadas

June and open space: Perfect together

Hit the trails on June 3, National Trails Day

Socializing with nature

Preserve land - and state's in lieu of taxes program

New Jersey's 'marl' pits yield dinosaur discoveries

Vernal pools: Now you see 'em, now you don't

State targets illegal dumpers in parks and forests

Former governors and elected leaders stand up for environment

Join CSAs to support local farms, save money, eat better

Weather extremes may be New Jersey's new normal

Bald eagles and ospreys rebound in New Jersey

Pine Barrens prescribed fires: A renewal force

Take a walk on the bottom of the sea!

Energy efficiency saves money and land - and creates jobs!

The Pines of March

Trees are more social than you think!

New Jersey's geological 'layer cake'

Keeping the 'great' in Paterson's Great Falls

Some good news!

Take action to defend and protect land and water

Interested in ecology? Become a Rutgers Environmental Steward

2016 wins and losses for New Jersey's land and water

Kick off a healthy New Year with First Day hike

Energy infrastructure: the new sprawl

Two great books for connecting kids with nature

ARCHIVE

November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011

CLICK FOR RECENT POSTS