Yesterday, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) announced that the invasive Emerald Ash Borer has been confirmed in western York County. From their release:
Entomologists have confirmed the presence of emerald ash borer (EAB) in western York County, Maine. This alarming new development follows a spring discovery in northern Aroostook County.
The emerald ash borer (EAB) is a highly destructive, introduced pest of forest and ornamental ash trees (Fraxinus spp.). Since its initial detection in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002 it has spread rapidly. As of August 2018, it has been found in 35 states, and four Canadian provinces including Maine.
This is very bad news. As DACF explains, “Ash trees infested with EAB may die within two to three years. Since its arrival in North America, EAB has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in infested states and provinces, and has cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest products industries hundreds of millions of dollars.”
What does this mean? Now more than ever, we must be vigilant about not bringing out-of-state firewood into Maine, which is a primary vehicle for EAB introduction. This is especially true in York County, which has the highest biodiversity in the state; losing ash from our southern forests is just one more threat among many to reducing that biodiversity.
Constituting about four percent of Maine’s hardwood forest, ash is also an important timber species and is used extensively by Native Americans, meaning EAB could have serious cultural and economic consequences for Maine. As the Portland Press Herald reported in April 2014, “To make a basket, one needs ash, a hardwood tree that also is used for firewood and other products, such as canoe paddles, snowshoes, ax handles and furniture. The Maine Forest Service estimates that about 6.7 million cords are harvested each year, at a value of about $140 million. The basket makers use black ash, which also is referred to as brown ash in the state. ”
For more information, visit the Maine Forest Service EAB website.