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Ash borer invasion leaves area homeowners with decisions to make

March 23, 2013
By Vicki Johnson - Staff Writer ( , The Advertiser-Tribune

Dead or dying ash trees due to emerald ash borer infestation is a common problem for Seneca County homeowners. And the decision on whether to save them or remove them can be overwhelming.

Since EAB's discovery in 2002, scientists have been researching methods of controlling or eliminating the pest, but no insecticide treatment has been found to guarantee ash trees can be saved.

Several treatments are available for use by homeowners or tree care professionals that can provide some control of the beetles.

The website provides an overall review of options and regulations regarding EAB quarantines and eradication strategies.

In a section of information put together by Katie Armstrong, USDA Forest Service EAB liaison, she suggests considering several points before making a decision trying to save ash trees.

Leading experts do not recommend treatment of ash trees with more than 20 percent dieback of its canopy because treatment may not be successful. Treatment should be considered primarily to prevent the infestation of healthy trees.

Available insecticide treatments (trunk injection, sprays and soil application) must be repeated every year. Homeowners should consider whether they are willing to take on the cost and planning required for annual treatment indefinitely.

No treatments have been proven effective against EAB. Although some applications show potential, be wary of anyone who claims to have the "solution" or promises to cure or protect your tree. There are no guarantees available treatment options will work.

If you choose to try preventive treatments on valuable trees, get a few price quotes from reputable companies.

The same advice is useful when choosing a company to remove a tree. Hire a reliable, insured, licensed arborist or tree service company. Neighbors may choose to hire a company as a group, which might lessen the cost per tree.

Before hiring a company, be sure to obtain estimates from multiple companies. proof of insurance, written estimates of cost, written agreement on disposal and site cleanup requirements, and references.

When choosing what to do with the wood from a downed tree, homeowners have several options.

Sometimes, tree removal companies charge less if they don't have to dispose of the wood.

It might have value as lumber if it's at least 12 inches in diameter; has a trunk at least 6 feet long and clear of branches, cracks, rot or other defects; and has been dead for only one year.

Local mill operators can travel to homes to convert trees into lumber. Emerald ash borer doesn't damage the interior portion of the wood when it kills the tree. Ash wood can be used for furniture, flooring, paneling and molding.

The wood can be used for landscaping materials such as landscape timbers or chips and mulch.

If a tree has sentimental value or is a valuable part of a landscape, homeowners can consider hiring a woodworker or chain saw carver to create a piece of art or furniture from the wood. Instead of losing tree altogether, it can remain part of a yard in a new form or become a family heirloom.

If a tree has no other value, it can become firewood for use in your home or sold.

However, firewood should be used locally and not transported to other locations because of the danger of the pest traveling with the wood to a new location.

Wood can be sold or donated to woodworkers for use in projects that will not leave the quarantine area.

Wood can be donated to local schools, parks or community organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, scouting groups, nature centers for use in making picnic tables, park benches, renovation or construction programs, or other projects.

The main point for homeowners to remember is the wood cannot leave the quarantine area. Under the quarantine, it is illegal to move ash trees, branches, lumber with bark attached, wood chips larger than 1 inch, and any deciduous firewood from designated areas.



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