Ash trees in Oneonta's Neahwa and Wilber parks will be tagged Thursday to raise awareness about an invasive beetle species that officials want to stop.
Tens of millions of ash trees have been killed in the United States by the emerald ash borer, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said in a recent media release, and the hundreds of millions of ash trees in New York are at risk.
During Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week, which runs through Saturday, the DEC, Cornell Cooperative Extension and volunteers will post signs and tie ribbons on about 3,000 ash trees along streets and in parks around the state.
The Oneonta program Thursday reflects efforts statewide.
The Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership will work with volunteers starting at 1 p.m. in Neahwa Park and then in Wilber Park. Yellow tags with purple ribbons will identify the tree species and the risk posed by the ash borer, said Elizabeth D'Auria, Catskill invasive species assistant with the The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development in Arkville. CRISP also is conducting an inventory of trees that includes parts of Delaware and Schoharie counties, she said.
CRISP will have a "Beetle Buster Bonanza Day," a day of educational activities relating to forest pests, at the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 11. D'Auria said volunteers will inventory ash trees in Fleischmanns and Arkville that afternoon.
A tree infested by the borer will live another two to four years, D'Auria said.
The emerald ash borer, originally from Asia, was discovered in New York in 2009, the DEC release said, and five counties in western New York and two in the Hudson Valley have infestations. State and federal agencies are working to stop the movement of beetles out of these areas and seek help from the public.
To prevent advance and infestation of the ash borer, people should look for symptoms of the beetle, not transport fire wood and notify DEC about any signs of borer activity, state forester Robert Davies said in the DEC release.
State firewood regulations restrict the movement of untreated firewood to 50 miles, the DEC said, and borer quarantines prevent the spread of potentially infested materials.
Box-like purple traps appearing in some local trees are another identification and preventive step. The traps, which are set in the spring and removed in autumn, contain plant oils that attract the ash borer and a glue to hold them.
The DEC is cutting infested trees and chipping them to destroy the beetles inside, and the USDA Forest Service is helping efforts to slow the spread of the borer in the lower Hudson Valley.
"Kingston and the Hudson River are literally the front line in the emerald ash borer's march eastward," Forest Service representative Terry Miller said in the DEC release. "The timing of this awareness week right before the summer recreation season could not be better."
Infestations also could lead to economic hardships.
"The economic impact of EAB to New York's ash timber resources will be great," Cornell University entomologist Mark Whitmore said in the release. "But this impact is pale in comparison to potential tree removal and treatment costs incurred by homeowners and communities confronted with the public health hazard posed by countless dead ash trees."