New Hampshire Officials say the detection of the Emerald Ash Borer in Concord last week is the first for New Hampshire, and the eastern most detection in North America.
"We knew it was coming. We have been planning for this for several years," said Brad Simpkins with the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands.
The tiny green beetle eats ash trees from the inside out. It was found in a tree in the state's capital. Scarring on the bark is visible and when the bark is pealed away, the damage underneath is also apparent. The beetle can kill a tree in three to five years. "It will not impact other types of trees, such as your oaks or your pines, it focuses on ash trees but it has the potential to kill all ash trees," Simpkins said.
At a press conference Monday, state and federal officials mapped out their plan to control the destructive beetle. The first step will be to determine, block by block, how bad the infestation is. The survey grids have already been established. "They do have particular significance for landscape trees, a lot of street trees and urban trees," Simpkins said.
Ash is also used for fire wood. Which means, the emerald ash borer has the potential to have both an ecological and economical impact.
"Because it can move so easily through fire wood, among other things, it was kind of a shot that it would show up anywhere," said Piera Siegert with the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture.
The ash borer can also be spread easily, so officials have issued a quarantine throughout Merrimack County -- no ash can be transported out of the county. "Hardwoods firewood, nursery stock, round wood, and other ash materials as well as all life stages of the emerald ash borer itself," Siegert said.
The state is working with the federal government on the action plan, which has been in the works for several years. The goal is not to eradicate the beetle completely, but to stop the spread. "We have come a long ways in ten years. When we found this beetle in 2002 in Detroit, we didn't know anything about it. We didn't know how to survey for it or anything. So we have come a long way and we have some tools now that we can use," said Nathen Siegert with the U.S. Forest Service.
The bug has now been found in 19 states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut. Officials in Vermont are working with neighboring states to monitor its spread.
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