An unexpected discovery last week in New Hampshire has highlighted work being done behind the scenes in Vermont. Investigations have confirmed the presence of emerald ash borer (EAB) in an ash tree near Interstate 93 in Concord. While not known to be in Vermont yet, EAB is on the move and has prompted a multi-agency effort to prepare for its arrival.
First detected in the Detroit area in 2002, the destructive beetle from Asia has since been detected in 19 states and killed millions of ash trees. Established infestations near Vermont include locations in southern Quebec, New Yorkís Hudson River Valley and Massachusetts.
For the past several years, in response to detections of EAB in other states and Canadian provinces, state officials have been implementing elements of the Vermont Invasive Forest Pest Action Plan. The Action Plan aims to reduce the economic, social and environmental impacts of invasive pests and provides an outline for interagency coordination, acquiring information, rapid response and public involvement. The response to EAB in Vermont involves the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation; the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets; the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine; the US Forest Service; the University of Vermont; VT Forest Pest First Detectors and numerous industry and volunteer groups.
Cooperative efforts have been occurring for several years to monitor for EAB and to increase public awareness. In 2012, EAB detection activities were conducted at over 1350 locations in Vermont. A recent program to assist municipalities in preparing for EABís impacts has been piloted and is being introduced state wide. For more information: http://vtinvasives.org/tree-pests/community-preparedness. General information and recommendations for homeowner and land managers can be found at: http://www.vtfpr.org/protection/forestpestsfrontpage.cfm.
Vermontís approach to EAB has benefitted from programs and tactics tried in other states. While eradication attempts of EAB elsewhere have proven to be challenging, expensive and unsuccessful, several effective tools are now available to help manage this pest. As a result, the current strategy being used by Federal and State agencies is to reduce population growth of EAB infestations and to slow the progression of ash mortality by limiting the spread of EAB. Long term hopes rest on research, including bio-controls and promoting ash trees that can resist infestation.
Vermont officials continue to be proactive and are sticking with this approach. Although EAB has been detected on all sides of Vermont, these are primarily outlying, isolated infestations. State and Federal agencies continue to intensively monitor for EAB, but there is no way to know how long it may take for EAB to be found in Vermont.
To slow the spread of EAB, it is critical to not move infested ash material. Most new EAB infestations are introduced via untreated firewood. Vermonters can help slow the spread of EAB to Vermont by burning only local firewood. Areas infested by EAB are subject to state and federal quarantines. All hardwood firewood of all species is prohibited from exiting regulated areas unless that wood has certification of being heat treated at an approved USDA or state facility and is accompanied by the required documentation. The quarantine also regulates movement of ash nursery stock and other ash wood products that could spread EAB. Industries receiving or handling regulated ash materials such as sawmills, waste management facilities, nurseries and garden centers may be impacted by the regulations associated with EAB.
The recent New Hampshire discovery illustrates the important role that citizens play in dealing with invasive pests. Vermonters can learn more about how to be involved at: http://vtinvasives.org/tree-pests/
Individuals may contact Vermont's Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation at 802-241-3678 or Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets at 802-828-1317 for more information, or visit the websites vtinvasives.org and www.aphis.usda.gov.