T is for Trees

Trees are awesome. A world without trees would be a world in which it would be virtually impossible to live. Have you ever noticed that there are no people on Mars? Well, there are also no trees on Mars.

Here in Grand Island, New York, back in the nineteenth century, there used to be many white oak trees. They were large shade trees. The sight of all of those white oak trees must have been impressive. In 1833, the the East Boston Company purchased about 16,000 acres on Grand Island. It operated a sawmill at Whitehaven, which was the largest steam saw in the world. The land was clear cut, and the timber was sold to shipyards in New York and Boston.

This dramatic loss of the mature white oak was a man-made disaster. White oaks are slow-growth trees. It takes about two to three decades after planting for the tree to be large enough to offer significant shade. In the past ten years, there have been efforts to plant white oaks in Grand Island.

Here in Grand Island and in many places, disaster again is impending for trees. This time, it is the ash trees that are in danger. They are in danger from insects called the emerald ash borer that were accidentally imported from China. In Asia, the emerald ash borers are not considered to be pest. Here in North America, the emerald ash borer is highly destructive.

Adult emerald ash borers are harmless. It is when the emerald ash borer is in its larval state that they are hazardous. They will burrow beneath the trees bark and will eat the inner phloem, cambium, and outer xylem. This causes the tree to die. 

Once it is known that an area has been infested with the emerald ash borer, there are a variety of things that can be done. One is for homeowners to choose which of their ash trees they absolutely cannot live without and to protect those trees. They should contact a professional arborist, who can inject the tree with an insecticide that will kill the larva. It is best to have this done before the tree is infested. If the tree is already infested, the injection may not work and, then, the best option is to have the tree removed.

Infested trees should be removed before they become hazardous. When ash trees die, they break apart in chunks, which can be dangerous for anything around them, such as houses, cars, roads, people, and animals. 

Another thing that could be done is to start planting new trees before the ash trees have to removed. It is best to plant a diverse group of trees. The more diverse the species, the less likely you are to lose all of your community’s trees in the event of an infestation. In trees, variety is truly the spice of life. Get everyone involved in the tree planting. People of all ages, from children to senior citizens, should be involved in the project. There are many ways to go about planting trees. People could plant trees in groups on Arbor Day. In Beaver Island State Park, there is a program for people to plant trees in the memory of a loved one who has passed away.

To prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer, do not carry firewood over long distances. Make sure, if you need firewood, that you always buy local, in the area where you are going to use the fire wood.

For more information about the emerald ash borer, contact your local cooperative extension.

3 thoughts on “T is for Trees”

  1. The story of the logging is a sad one, repeated so many times. I'm happy they are trying to restore the oaks. But, we are also facing the ash borer where I live in the Southern Tier of New York. They had the little purple boxes (traps for study) a couple of years ago in my neighborhood, which has several ash trees. I fear they won't be there much longer. I remember what happened to the elms and chestnuts of my youth.

  2. Cerebrations.biz

    Given the prevalence of the ash borer, it would probably be prudent to treat all the trees in the area. to preserve those few that remain…

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