Toledo ‘Not Abandoned’ in Ash Borer War

The State of Ohio continues to wage war on the Emerald Ash Borer – a tiny insect that’s caused the destruction of millions of Ash trees in the Great Lakes region. But a spokeswoman for the state agriculture department disputes a report that says eradication in the heavily infested Toledo area has been abandoned for lack of money. WOSU’s Sam Hendren reports

Spokeswoman Melissa Brewer says a lack of money is hampering – but has not ended – the eradication campaign in Lucas County. The Emerald Ash Borer was first discovered in the Detroit area in 2002. Since then, it has spread to adjoining states. The Ohio Agriculture Department has cut down thousands of healthy ash trees in an effort to stop the spread of the Asian beetle. Brewer says that until a better method can be found, cutting down healthy trees will continue to be the accepted practice.

“In the meantime in Ohio we continue to implement the eradication protocol the national science advisory panel recommends and we’ve been focusing our efforts on the eastern most points of infestation and the southern most points with the intent to contain the pest and push it back up into Michigan,” Brewer says.

Brewer says tree cutting and removal in the Easton area of Columbus has kept it free of the ash borer since 2004. Although the Toledo area in northwest Ohio is heavily infested, Brewer says the eradication campaign will be fought further east at sites in Erie and Lorain counties and in the counties of Delaware and Auglaize.

“Funding plays a major role in how much we can cut at one time. And right now 2006 funding is still up in the air – it’s still being discussed as to what may be coming into Ohio, as well as Indiana and Michigan,” says Brewer.

Tree growers and plant nurseries are also feeling the financial impact of the Emerald Ash Borer. Patrick Foley manages the landscaping division of the Boulevard Gardens nursery in Columbus.

“Ash tree over the years has definitely been a pretty popular tree for the fact that it’s a fast grower, has nice fall color, is tolerant and adaptable to differing conditions, it’s right up there with the maples and oaks in terms of popularity but now of course it’s becoming a liability, Foley says.

Millions of trees have been destroyed in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. The federal government is taking precautions to safeguard the genetic uniqueness of various ash tree species by preserving their seeds. Sam Hendren, WOSU News.

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