Tag: emerald ash borer

UK Researchers Search for Ash Borer-Resistant Trees

Before the emerald ash borer arrived, ash trees made up about 4% of the trees across Kentucky. World famous Louisville Slugger baseball bats were traditionally made from white ash.

Ash trees infested by the emerald ash borer can take up to several years to die after first being attacked. Yet, relatively healthy ash trees have been  discovered amid stands of dead and dying trees. These survivors are known as “lingering ash.” They are untreated trees that are still healthy in areas where more than 95% of the other ash trees have been killed by the emerald ash borer. 

Researchers at the University of Kentucky (UK) hope to use the seed and genetic material from these lingering ash trees for breeding programs and research purposes to develop ash trees that confer some resistance to the emerald ash borer.

“The idea is those trees that have some natural genetic resistance to the emerald ash borer are going to be the future of ash,” said Ellen Crocker, UK assistant professor of forest health extension in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “We’ve been trying to find some of these trees for several years now, and when we do, we get their seeds, so the Kentucky Division of Forestry can propagate them at their nursery and hopefully, get them back into the natural landscape.”

Identifying lingering ash trees may present a way forward for ash in North America, using seed and genetic material from these trees for breeding programs and research purposes, with the hope of developing ash trees that confer some resistance to EAB.

UK researchers are seeking the public’s help to find lingering ash trees. They said they can most likely be found in a stand where 95% or more of the trees have been dead for two or more years. The best lingering ash candidates would be greater than 10 inches in diameter.

In a similar vein, several years ago, the U.S. Forest Service and Ohio State University embarked on a collaborative effort to preserve and study the lingering ash through grafting, which allows both preservation and replication to study resistance to EAB. 



How Harrisonburg, VA, Upscales Dead Ash Trees

Harrisonburg, VA, home to 54,000 people and the annual Gr8 Film Festival, is also serious about repurposing its ash trees victimized by the emerald ash borer.

Harrisonburg’s first EAB siting was in 2015. Since 2018, the city has removed more than 550 ash trees. More than 750 additional ash trees are scheduled for removal by the end of 2021. 

In 2018, Harrisonburg chemically treated 36 ash trees through the Virginia Department of Forestry’s Cost-Share Program in an attempt to preserve them. Thirty-two of those trees received a second treatment in 2020. The four untreated in the second round were damaged by storms. Plans call for reevaluating the remaining 32 trees for treatment again in 2022.

Unfortunately the city cannot afford to treat all of its ash trees. In the search for finding a higher use for the many that can’t be saved, the Harrisonburg’s public works department has partnered with the Virginia Urban Wood Group to use the wood when possible and, thus, keep it out of landfills.

Some of the wood is auctioned off through the city’s public surplus website. 

In one of the more creative displays of using reclaimed ash wood, two city staff members working with local company Willow Run Custom Lumber,  took an ash tree that was recently removed from Westover Park and transformed the lumber into a shadow box to present an American flag created out of a fire hose. It was a fitting send-off gift to retiring master firefighter BJ Clark.

 “As much as I was saddened to retire, I truly appreciate that a part of the city will remain with me,” Clark said. 

Added Jeremy Harold, Harrisonburg’s green space manager, “Anytime we can take a tree that was lost for unfortunate reasons, and give it a new purpose as opposed to it going to waste – that’s what the Harrisonburg Urban Wood Utilization Program is all about.” 

Learn more: Out of the Ashes | City of Harrisonburg, VA.

About that Super Gr8 film fest, here’s a video that will tickle the nostalgic funny bone of anyone who ever filmed or was filmed with a Super 8 camera.







‘Save Your Ash’ Campaign Comes to My Hood

By Rich Christianson

During a recent power walk through my neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side, I passed a tree sporting an unfamiliar green tag emblazoned with the word “WARNING” in red capital letters.

I paused to read the full text of the tag:

SAVE THIS TREE and preserve our canopy”

The tag included the website for the North River Commission’s (RNC) Save Your Ash campaign.

According to the website, Chicago has lost 42,000 of the 94,000 parkway ash trees it had in 2013 when it began inoculating them against the emerald ash borer (EAB). The city has since thrown in the towel in its battle against the deadly emerald beetle and instead plans to remove diseased ash trees and replace them with other species.

The RNC Commission, however, is not joining the city in surrender. It advocates inoculating older, larger ash trees while removing smaller, infected trees as “a more cost-effective and sustainable solution that will preserve the integrity and canopy over a longer period of time.”

The commission has partnered with a treatment supplier to provide an average 30% discount on injections reportedly effective for up to three years. The website includes contact information for several tree care companies, each an approved vendor of the treatment supplier. They include Davey, Kinnucan, SavATree and TruGreen.

“Because treatment extends the life of Ash trees, the NRC Save Your Ash program will preserve the integrity of the local tree canopy in a sustainable and cost-effective manner.” the RNC states. “Chicago’s parkway trees will be selectively removed and replaced without cutting down swaths of trees that leave parkways bare.”

The RNC is seeking individual homeowners with ash trees to contact approved vendors for treatment. The organization is also asking all community members to make a tax deductible donation to fund treatment of selected ash trees throughout the River North 

North River Commission is a nonprofit community and economic development corporation for the northwest side of Chicago, from the Chicago River to Cicero and Addison to Devon.

Learn more about the RNC’s Save Your Ash campaign.

Read related article: Chicago Neighborhood Takes a Stand to Save Ash Trees


Cornell to research using EAB-ravaged trees for engineered wood products

Cornell University of Ithaca, NY, in coordination with timber manufacturer Unalam of Unadilla, NY, will research and develop methods to reuse wood infested by the emerald ash borer.

According to a press release about the program, researchers will use robotic fabrication technology to transform irregularly shaped ash lumber into engineered wood products. The project’s title is “Upcycling Ash Trees for Sustainable Wood Construction.”

“The invasive emerald ash borer (EAB) epidemic has killed tens of millions of ash trees in North America, drastically transforming entire forest ecosystems and creating a massive climate risk.” state the research team at Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability. “Infested and dying ash trees also provide an enormous and untapped resource for sustainable wood construction. Unfortunately, they are often comprised of mature growth trees which cannot be processed by standard lumber mills. In collaboration with glued laminated timber manufacturer Unalam, this project will develop an innovative method to reuse EAB-infested timber. By introducing high precision 3D scanning and robotic fabrication technology, researchers will create a new building process to transform irregularly shaped “ash waste wood” into a useful high-tech engineered wood products.”


Chicago Neighborhood Makes a Stand to Save Ash Trees

Residents of Ravenswood Manor, the northside Chicago home of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and ex-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, are putting up a line of defense of the community’s ash trees against the deadly emerald ash borer.

The Ravenswood Manor Improvement Association (RMIA) is leading the charge to collect enough money to inoculate approximately 90 ash trees located on parkways with a treatment to prevent EAB infestation. The RMIA is taking it upon itself to save the trees because the city discontinued treating ash trees in 2018.

According to the RMIA’s Save Our Ashes! web page dedicated to the ash tree cause, “Some residents may also have ash trees on their private property. Most of our parkway ash trees are still strong and healthy but are in desperate need of protection. We can obtain volume discount pricing of 30-40% on inoculations for the whole neighborhood. An average sized tree will be costs approximately $150 to protect for three years.”

WTTW interviewed Lorin Liberson, an RMIA resident actively involved in the save the ash trees crusade.

“We have probably the largest ash tree in the neighborhood, it’s a monster,”  Liberson told WTTW.  “This tree is the house.” She added that RMIA residents had been “very generous” in their financial support.



Penn State Developing Tech that Destroys Pests in Wood

Penn State scientists validated the effectiveness and cost efficiency of radio frequency technology for pallet sanitation during a commercial trial held at University Park. Image: Penn State

A technology that uses dielectric heating and radio frequency energy to destroy destructive pests lurking within wood products is closer to reaching the marketplace after a commercial trial at Penn State’s University Park campus.

The Dec. 17 demonstration, which was observed by regulatory and wood products industry professionals from the U.S. and Canada, validated the effectiveness and cost efficiency of the radio frequency, or RF, technology for pallet sanitation.

The treatment offers enhanced ability to terminate wood insect and nematode pests compared to conventional heat practices, noted Mark Gagnon, Harbaugh Entrepreneur and Innovation Faculty Scholar in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

“This innovation has the potential to be transformative in required international trade wood-sanitation treatment,” said Gagnon, who has been instrumental in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program since its inception, encouraging entrepreneurship across the college.

“RF treatment is more efficient and uses fewer resources than conventional kilns and chemical drying methods, and that is not only better for a company’s bottom line, but it is also better for the environment.”

Developed by Penn State scientists John Janowiak, professor of wood products engineering, processing and manufacturing, and Kelli Hoover, professor of entomology, the patent-pending, wood-treatment system heats wood in a unique configuration by using electromagnetic wave penetration, similar to that of a microwave oven.

It heats wood from the inside out, first causing the core temperature to elevate rapidly, making it an ideal method to destroy pests that have burrowed within, noted Hoover.

“Invasive pests cause about $120 billion a year in damage to our valuable forests, ecosystems and agricultural crops, and they continue to be a problem due to increased world trade,” she said, pointing to the emerald ash borer and Asian long horned beetle as examples. Both pests found their way to the U.S. in untreated pallets shipped from China in the early 2000s; the emerald ash borer alone has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees in 30 states.

Mark Hamelin, RF Kiln Technology, center, adjusts the power input for a dielectric heating cycle. He is shown with John Janowiak, professor of wood products engineering, processing and manufacturing, and Karolina Szymona, postdoctoral researcher.
IMAGE: Penn State

Ensuring that wood used in international trade is pest-free is not just an ethical business practice, but it is a legal requirement, according to Janowiak. Wood packaging materials, including pallets, crates and chips, must be debarked, treated and inspected per international regulations. Adhering to these standards is especially crucial for the U.S. wood industry as 40 percent of its logs are processed into wooden shipping pallets.

For years, wood-products manufacturers have had two options to deal with wood-boring insects — traditional heat-treatment or fumigation. RF technology is poised to offer the industry another choice, one that the scientists say is faster and more streamlined than the use of conventional kilns and that can help decrease energy costs. In addition, the cost to treat wood using RF technology potentially is lower than current pallet heat-treatment practices, set at 5 cents for a standard 48-by-40-inch shipping pallet.

“Our technology has a huge economic potential that can provide long-term savings for companies,” said Karolina Szymona, a postdoctoral researcher on the project. “While saving money is important, to me the real value is that it saves energy, which means saving our natural resources and reducing the carbon footprint.”

RF technology also can replace the process of fumigating wood with methyl bromide — a chemical that is being phased out — and help the U.S. wood products industry to retain export markets while moving away from chemically-treated wood.

“There has been a real demand to develop suitable alternatives to replace methyl bromide, which is an ozone-depleting chemical,” said Ron Mack, commodity treatment specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. “Dielectric treatment is one of the leading alternatives to replace it.”

While the technology has undergone numerous tests and has received a stamp of approval from industry boards as well as the International Plant Protection Convention of the UN — the board that oversees wood packaging trade standards — the research team needs third-party validation and assistance with developing operational protocols to make its innovation “mill ready.”

To that end, the scientists are working on a bilateral agreement with the U.S. and Canadian lumber standard accreditation committees, both of which had representatives on-site for the trial in Penn State’s Forest Resources Laboratory.

“This is a safe, stable and proven technology,” said Chuck Dentelbeck, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Lumber Standards Accreditation Board. “But introducing any new technology is like being in a marathon; you have to bring them [pallet manufacturers] to the starting line and let them decide if it makes sense for them. Once they know the benefits, I believe many will run with it.”

Sharing his enthusiasm is project collaborator Mark Hamelin of RF Kiln Technology, of Midland, Ontario, Canada, who deemed the commercial trial a success. “This was a pretty big day, having these agencies witness how efficiently and effectively our process works,” he said. “There are challenges ahead, the biggest one will be convincing people in the industry who have been using a different technology for 50 years that we have a better mousetrap.”

The project has received state and federal appropriations, including continuous funding since 2003 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Methyl Bromide Transitions Program. It also received financial support from the college’s Research Applications for INnovation program, which provides funding for researchers who are ready to move toward commercializing their research.

More information about RF technology and project collaborators is available online at https://abe.psu.edu/research/bio-based-products/wood-packaging/about-research. Further, the USDA and industry partner Mark Hamelin of RF Kiln Technology are part of a formal Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with Penn State to advance RF technology.

Slideshow: Nebraska’s Ash Wood Showcase

The creative output of more than 20 woodworkers and artists was featured in the Ash Wood Showcase held last month at Turbine Flats in Lincoln, NE.
The event, part of Lincoln’s First Friday Artwalk, was facilitated by the Nebraska Forest Service. More than 200 people viewed the furniture and crafts, a sampling of which is displayed in the accompanying slideshow.
“The response was incredibly positive,” said Heather Norbert, forest products marketing coordinator for the Nebraska Forest Service. “During the event we also had our forest health staff there to answer questions about the emerald ash borer. They said they talked to more folks at this event than they typically do at agricultural events. The Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department was there as were representatives from a few local wood products businesses. All in all the event was quite successful.”

The ash wood used in the showcase was donated by the city of Lincoln, milled by the forest service and dried at Big Red Sawmill in Palmyra, NE.

The emerald ash borer’s migration to Lincoln threatens more than 50,000 private and public ash trees. 

Study compares EAB’s Impact: Vienna vs. Minneapolis

“Do differences in visual landscape preferences for EAB-impacted forest scenarios exist between forest visitors asked in EAB-impacted and EAB non-impacted cities?”

This is one of the essential survey questions posed to visitors of urban forests in Minneapolis, MN, and Vienna, Austria, where ash trees have been a significant part of the landscape. The big difference, however, is that Minneapolis has lost a large chunk of its ash population, while Vienna has not been impacted by EAB yet, but is expected to be threatened in the years to come.

The results of the survey are reported in a newly released study by Oxford Academic, “Differences in urban forest visitor preferences for emerald ash borer-impacted areas.” 

In the words of the The study’s authors: “As of 2019, there has been little research on the social impacts of tree health, although there seems to be societal concern about the impacts of tree pests like EAB. However, reported awareness about the presence of specific tree pests and forest management options is generally low (Marzano et al., 2017). Particularly in Europe, little is known about how EAB impacts might influence forest visitors’ site preferences, whether preferences differ among visitors, and whether visitor socio-demographic, recreational activities or their relationship with nature can explain this potential heterogeneity. As EAB infestation is already significant in many parts of both the United States and Russia, and imminent in Europe, knowledge about visitor preference heterogeneity is necessary for proactive and effective forest management. This need is particularly important for urban forest managers and planners as ash is a central component of European urban green infrastructure. If respondents’ preferences are homogeneous, it is easier to obtain agreement on forest management, but if there are segments with conflicting preferences, management becomes more challenging and requires additional efforts toward agreement and information about choices. Thus, the question arises as to how visitor preferences differ regarding changes in the forest landscape associated with EAB impacts and concomitant forest management, if and how visitor segments differ n their support for forest management actions, and what trade-offs among several factors (social, visual, managerial) exist.” 

A sampling of results:

  • The majority of respondents in Vienna had never heard about EAB (85.1%). About 13% of respondents had heard about EAB but had no knowledge about it while 2.4% said they had some knowledge of EAB and none of the respondents indicated they knew a lot about it.
  • Vienna respondents preferred a non-impacted mature ash forest, advanced stages of natural regeneration, dense trailside shrub vegetation and low trail user numbers. Relatedly, respondents disliked removal of most ash trees, viewscapes showing city buildings close to the trail, unleashed dogs and a visitor composition consisting of walkers only.
  • The higher relative importance of the EAB impacts and management attribute for Minneapolis respondents may be related to their higher awareness of the existing EAB risk for the ash trees. Seven years before this study, EAB was detected in the City of Minneapolis and in 2014, active EAB management was in full force with tree marking and removal.

Read the Study



NC Program Protects Most-Valued Ash Trees from EAB

The North Carolina Forest Service said its Ash Protection Program funded or partially funded the protection of more than 620 of the state’s most cherished ash trees in 15 North Carolina communities, municipalities and parks in 2018 and 2019.

The program was refunded for 2020, with applications being taken through Feb. 21.

The Ash Protection Program was created through a grant from the U.S. Forest Service. It provides financial assistance to urban forest managers, primarily NC municipalities, to protect ash trees using a pesticide treatment. The pesticide, which is injected directly into the tree trunk, reportedly protects the tree from emerald ash borer infestation for two to three years. Trees can receive a second injection to prolong protection.

Program funding prioritizes the preservation of trees with historical or recreational value, as well as those in high-visibility urban areas.

Learn more at the Ash Protection Program website.

EAB’s Path of Destruction Continues to Widen

Click to expand.

By Rich Christianson

The Emerald ash borer (EAB), the shiny green beetle with an insatiable appetite for ash trees that jump-started the urban wood movement, continues its deadly march across North America.

According to the Emerald Ash Borer Information Network, a website maintained by the U.S. Forest Service, EAB is now found in 35 states and five Canadian provinces. When we last checked in March 2018 – see map below – EAB had been detected in 31 states and two provinces.

Added to the list of state’s with EAB detections within the last 18 months are Maine, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont. The provinces of Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are also new to the map that is periodically updated by the Forest Service.

Florida and Mississippi are the only states east of the Mississippi that have yet to have any reports of EAB infestations. However, Florida, along with Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming have state EAB information available, according to the EAB Information Network.

According to the EAB Information Network, EAB “was originally discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. The adult beetles nibble on ash foliage but cause little damage. The larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. Emerald ash borer probably arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships or airplanes originating in its native Asia.”

The network also notes that EAB is blamed for killing hundreds of millions of ash trees in U.S., private and urban forests. The USDA has attempted to enforce quarantines of infested areas to halt or at the very least slow the spread of EAB.

The Associated Press published an article on Oct. 7 noting that removal of trees felled by the EAB will cost Nebraskans more than $1 billion over the next few decades. “(B)ut local governments probably won’t be able to afford the cost and it’s not clear how much help they’ll get from the state.”

Missouri is another state grappling with EAB infestation. According to a Nov. 6 report in the Springfield News-Leader, the exotic beetle has been found in 16 new counties, bringing the total to 75 counties throughout the state. The article notes that the city of Springfield budgeted $75,000 for its EAB response. That money was used for insecticides to protect some ash trees and to remove others either in poor condition or poor location.