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Conservation

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The Ash Tree Project

The Ash Tree Project (ATP) aims to treat select high-value ash trees (fraxinus spp.) with the trunk-injected insecticide emmamectin benzoate (trade name “TREE-age”) to prevent near-certain mortality due to the exotic invasive pest Emerald Ash Borer (EAB – Agrilus planipennis).  Treatment with TREE-age is commonly considered being effective for a two-year period, with some municipalities using a longer interval.

ATP is a conservation project of the local Audubon chapter – Audubon Miami Valley (AMV).  Initially funded through an Audubon Collaborative Funding Grant, ATP was given a huge boost in May 2014 by a donation from the Arborjet company of application equipment, one liter of insecticide, and a half-day of on-site training from Arborjet representatives on 5/29/2014.

The priority treatment area is a 200+ acre tract known as Hueston Woods State Nature Preserve (HWSNP), aka “Big Woods”, within Hueston Woods State Park. HWSNP is a stand of “old growth” timber, a beech-maple forest designated in 1967 as a National Natural Landmark.

http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/huestonwoods#history

Ash tree species are estimated to make up 10% of all Ohio trees, with white ash estimated to represent as much as 19% of the tree population within HWSNP.  Additionally, HWSNP is within an Audubon-designated “IBA” – Important Birding Area, and thus an area of the Mississippi Flyway designated for conservation emphasis by the National Audubon Society.

http://netapp.audubon.org/iba/site/433

HWSNP is approximately 5 miles north of Oxford Ohio, home of Miami University. The City of Oxford has been recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation since 1996, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Frost (1874-1963) once described Miami’s campus as “The most beautiful campus that ever there was.”

Pest pressure and tree mortality throughout the Project area appears to be ramping up from linear, toward what is described as the “exponential death phase”, already experienced in regions to the north with earlier infestation dates, so time is of the essence to identify and treat healthy candidate trees.  The progression of EAB pressure in the Oxford Ohio area over the past few years could be likened to a brush fire progressing into a fully-involved inferno – all ash trees are at severe risk, and the time to begin treating any high-value tree in the area is immediately, especially if there is not yet any evidence of decline.

To date, AMV has been awarded $1895 from an Audubon 2014 Collaborative Funding Program for the ATP, received prior to the important donation from the Arborjet company.  ATP was initiated by first-year Board member Mark Gilmore as a conservation project – Mark authored the grant application, incorporating important suggestions from AMV Chapter then-President Gail Reynolds.

Additional funds, assistance, and grants-in-kind are still being sought, and if available, will allow treatment of a greater number of trees.  In this IBA, the preservation of ash trees will help promote health and maintain diversity of critical habitat, a beneficial outcome for the entire ecosystem, and an important aspect of habitat protection.  If as estimated, 1/5 of trees within HWSNP are white ash, loss of this segment of the tree population represents potential major habitat loss and degradation.

AMV Chapter already has an ongoing conservation action project in HWSNP to eradicate understory invasives (garlic mustard, honeysuckle), initially funded by a $10,000 2012 Toyota TogetherGreen Fellows Grant.  While this grant money has been exhausted, AMV is continuing this conservation action on an annual basis.  ATP aims for further stewardship of the Big Woods by preserving at least a small portion of the legacy ash trees, and their important canopy feature.  Additionally, preservation of ash trees could also represent safe harbor for seed stock, particularly in the event current or future research yields parasitoid or other remedies against EAB, possibly allowing for future perpetuation of the species.

While ATP is not currently part of any academic research program, documentation of application dates and GPS location coordinates will be kept – this data will be available to interested parties. The necessary Ohio State Nature Reserve Research Permit to perform this work within HWSNP has been issued by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Natural Areas & Preserves.

For more information on EAB, go to:

http://www.emeraldashborer.info

http://stopthebeetle.info/

http://ashalert.osu.edu/

http://www.hungrypests.com/

http://www.agri.ohio.gov/divs/plant/eab/eab-index.aspx

http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/eab/index.php

http://www.ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=22935

http://butler.osu.edu/topics/horticulture/emerald-ash-bore-butler-county-quarantined

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/pages/search_results?query=emerald+ash+borer

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