State, local officials face uphill battle against EAB - WDRB 41 Louisville News

State, local officials face uphill battle against Emerald Ash Borer

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - It's an uphill battle against an exotic beetle killing Kentucky ash trees.

Tens of millions of trees throughout the U.S. have been affected by the Emerald Ash Borer. Experts say the invasive insect was discovered in Michigan back in 2002 before moving into other states.

"This little guy's doing all the damage and its feeding habits will go back and forth," said Sarah Stolz, a Horticulture Agent at UK's Agriculture Extension in Jefferson County as she pointed out EAB Larvae. She says movement from the larvae is what blocks the Ash tree's access to water and causes it to die.

"It's here in Jefferson county in all areas, we also have it, if you're looking at a quarantine map, all surrounding counties also have it," Stolz said.

State officials say there's been a 30-county quarantine in place for the past few years but that quarantine was just changed to include the entire state. That means people are no longer restricted from moving certain types of wood within the Commonwealth, like firewood.

"It was a way to try to reduce the rate of spread of the Emerald Ash Borer, but at this point it seemed that this isn't the most efficient means to work on the issue," said Jody Thompson with the state Division of Forestry.

That's because EAB has now been found throughout most of Kentucky and in surrounding states, according to Thompson. The spread will continue.

"Kentucky hasn't really seen the peak of the effect of Emerald Ash Borer, yet there are individual places that have," he said.

Thompson points to General Butler State Park as an example. Back in December, we saw many of the park's trees cut down and harvested because of the bug.

That's the option many have been left with. Louisville Metro Parks officials expect to lose 200 to 300 Ash trees each year.

"We just make annual inspection of our ash trees in the system. If we detect any infestation by EAB, we just go ahead and remove the tree and replace it with another tree," said Metro Parks Manager Dr. Mesude Duyar Ozyurekoglu.

She says ash trees make up more than 13% of the parks' canopy."They are located in a close proximity of park amenities which might be a risk to public safety they are declining," Ozyurekoglu said about the need to cut dying trees down.
 
Metro Parks hopes to save 5 to 10% of their ash trees through chemical treatment, but it's a more expensive option.

Officials with UK's Ag Extension help people make decisions about how to handle infested trees. Education is key to slowing the spread.

Stolz points out signs of EAB on an ash tree in a Louisville Metro park, like wood pecker holes and D-shaped holes from the Borer.

She says there are still Kentucky counties that haven't seen EAB, and even though the county wide quarantine has been lifted, county lines shouldn't be ignored.

"We don't want to relocate that bore and then have an outbreak in that county so just be mindful -- when you're ready to go on you're camping trip -- and you're packing your things hold back that firewood and buy local fire wood," she said.

Stolz says in 10 years she hopes Kentucky still has some ash trees and a diversified canopy as the dying trees are replaced with new ones.

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