Home & Woodlot Owners
The Emerald ash borer has rapidly become the most important pest of ash trees in North America. What does this mean for the woodlot owner? Should tree owners harvest ash as quickly as possible? Are there control methods? There are no easy answers.
Before making any decisions, work with professionals, including Cornell Cooperative Extension, NYS DEC, and professional consulting foresters to develop a long-term management plan that incorporates your goals. These professionals will also help you determine if an infestation is nearby and its rate of spread so you will be able to time your management activities accordingly. For a map of known EAB outbreaks in New York, click here.
Remember, don't panic. Currently less than 1% of New York's forests are infested; most woodlot owners have plenty of time to make a thoughtful plan for their woodlot. It may be years before EAB gets to you and your ash trees can add a lot of growth in a short period of time, increasing the timber and firewood value of your trees.
It is not necessary to remove every single ash tree on your property if they pose no threat to your use of the land. Standing dead trees can be good wildlife habitat and rotting logs will decay and return nutrients to the soil. Also, as more research is conducted, any remaining ash trees may be saved through future control options and, there is still hope that an EAB resistant ash tree will be found; maybe it will be yours.
If you have marketable ash trees, work with professional consulting foresters and neighboring landowners to identify markets within your area, including wholesale markets and custom or portable sawmills that can saw trees into boards for your use or sale. Professional consulting foresters can help you make informed decisions about the value of timber. Also, read "Woodlot Management and the Emerald Ash Borer", written by Mark Whitmore and Peter Smallidge for a thorough discussion on ash tree management and options.
Ash trees can be harvested for firewood, but it is important to comply with State regulations to prevent invasive species movement. In New York State, the Department of Environmental Conservation regulates the sale of firewood, including restricting the movement of firewood no further than 50 miles from its source, and not across state lines unless it has been heat-treated. For more information on New York State firewood regulations and EAB Quarantine, check our Firewood and Quarantine Page
Leave to rot:
Ash trees can be girdled, or cut and left on the ground. Dried out trees are no longer suitable for egg-laying and larval development. This will open the stand and allow other species to establish and grow. Again, it is advisable to work with professionals to determine if this is a viable response to your land and infestation situation.
Planting: It is not recommended that homeowners or woodlot owners plant ash (Fraxinus spp.) trees at this time. But, you may replant with other more desirable trees if it fits your management goals. Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District to see if they have a tree and shrub sale or you can purchase seedlings through the DEC Nursery in Saratoga: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7127.html.
Control: For Emerald ash borer control methods, including chemical treatments, please see the Control Options page.
Working With Contractors
If youÕre working with a contractor to conduct harvesting, firewood cutting or land clearing and are looking for language to include in your contract consider:
ÒFor all trees removed from site, contractor shall follow state laws regarding the movement of firewood.Ó
ÒAll ash trees in recognized Emerald Ash Borer infestation areas, shall be disposed/handled of as per regulations set forth by the New York State Department of Agriculture and MarketsÓ
"Woodland Health: Woodlot Management and the Emerald Ash Borer" By Mark Whitmore, Cornell University, and Pete Smallidge, Cornell University, The New York Forest Owner, 2011.
"Woodland Health: Emerald Ash Borer in New York: 2010 Update" By Mark Whitmore, Cornell University, and Melissa Fierke, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, The New York Forest Owner, 2011.
"Emerald Ash Borer: Recommendations for Homeowner and Woodland Owner Action" Fact Sheet, Cornell University, 2009
"Silviculture and Invasive Insects" Fact Sheet, Cornell University, 2009
"Private Wooldland Management in Anticipation of Emerald Ash Borer" Fact Sheet, Cornell University, 2007.
"Ash Management Guidelines for Private Woodlot Owners", University of Minnesota, 2011.
"Management Options for Minimizing Emerald Ash Borer Impact on Ohio Woodlands" Fact Sheet, Ohio State University Extension, 2010
"Emerald Ash Borer and Your Woodland" Fact Sheet, Michigan State University, 2007