July 30, 2010
August Is Forest Pest Awareness Month in New York State
State to Increase Awareness of and Survey for Invasive Species in New York Forests
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today announced that the Governor has proclaimed August as Forest Pest Awareness Month in New York State. Working with their northeast neighboring states, officials in New York are taking the opportunity to educate citizens throughout the State about the risks associated with forest pests and pathogens, and the actions they can take to help safeguard New York’s valuable and abundant forests.
“Forests are important to the quality of life to all New Yorkers, and August is dedicated to protecting these valuable lands from unwanted pests, such as the Emerald Ash Borer and the Asian Longhorned Beetle,” the Commissioner said. “Awareness is the first step towards changing the behavior of others, and over the next month, we hope to increase the awareness of forest pests in New York State and awaken a level of interest and knowledge by citizens of how they can help detect these pests and safeguard our natural resources.”
Throughout the month of August, Agriculture and Markets officials will be providing training for children and citizen groups to share information detection and identification, as well as reporting procedures for forest pests. Information will be focused on the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) and the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB), the State’s two highest profile and most serious forest pest threats that have a confirmed presence in New York State. Volunteers will also have the opportunity to assist state horticultural inspectors in actual field surveys, which will be done in four high risk areas – Newburgh, Messina, Watkins Glen and Buffalo. Those areas will also host billboards, titled “Today’s Menu: Our Forests,” reminding travelers to report sightings of EAB and ALB.
To help protect forest health in New York State, citizens can become informed about how to identify and report unusual bugs at www.beetlebusters.com and www.stopthebeetle.info. They should also only use firewood from local sources when camping or recreating outdoors, and never move firewood from dying trees.
Eric Carlson, Executive Director of the Empire State Forest Products Association, said, “The men and woman who make their living from the forest are greatly concerned by the health of our forests. These pests threaten the livelihood of 50,000 New Yorkers and their families. We appreciate the Governor’s recognition of this problem and the Commissioner’s efforts to increase awareness.”
Forest health is of particular interest today in light of recent and new findings of the EAB in Bath and Saugerties this month, along with the ALB in Boston, Massachusetts. These reported detections are all in new locations of the State and region that emphasize the need for greater education and outreach of all forest pests. Both pests pose serious threats to New York’s forest health. EAB kills ash trees which are used for shade as street trees and provides wood for implement handles and baseball bats. ALB kills maple trees s which are New York’s official state tree and the most abundant species in the State. Maples are used for wide variety of wood products as well as the production of maple syrup.
Frank Lowenstein, Director of Forest Health for The Nature Conservancy, said, "There are two key messages from these finds. First, individuals should buy their firewood at their destination, not carry it with them. That way you won't unknowingly spread a tree-killing pest. And second, while it's probably too late to stop the emerald ash borer it's not too late to stop other forest pests. We must redouble our efforts to eradicate the Asian Longhorned Beetle in New York City, New Jersey and Massachusetts.”
In addition to ALB and EAB, the State is also concerned with and keeps a watchful eye out for other invasive species such as oak wilt, chestnut blight, beech bark disease, and hemlock woolly adelgid. Trees infested with an invasive species, such as those listed, are usually weakened to the point where they die or need to be taken down, and are also no longer usable for harvested forest products. Trees and forestland aid in the filtration of New York’s clean drinking water, support the protection of New York’s plants and animals, and underwrite the economy of many communities through recreation, tourism, forestry, and numerous other uses.
Forest Pest Awareness Month is a collaborative outreach effort throughout the northeastern states that provides an opportunity for government to join forces with business, industry, environmental groups, community organizations and citizens to take action against the introduction and spread of invasive species. In New York, the Departments of Agriculture and Markets, and Environmental Conservation work cooperatively together with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and New York City Parks to combat certain forest pests. In doing so, the State maintains regulations restricting the movement of wood products and firewood within EAB and ALB infested areas, as well as issues compliance agreements for wood products manufacturers and others handling ash wood within infested areas.
New York State’s forests cover 18.6 million acres or 62 percent of the State’s 30 million total acres. Many of the State’s forests are privately owned and managed for wood products or pulp. According to Cornell University, the forest industry employs more than 60,000 people and directly contributes $4.6 billion to the State’s economy each year.
2010 Press Releases