Ash borer creeping along in Monroe County

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Like many Monroe County communities, the Village of Fairport has a long-term plan to address the threat the emerald ash borer poses to its ash tree population.

A few years ago, the village identified a number of ash trees susceptible to infestation by the invasive beetle, says Fairport Tree Board chair Ken Rohr. Every year since, crews have removed some of the trees; a total of 127 will be removed over a 10-year period, Rohr says. Waiting until the trees become infested by the borer could have meant a big hit for the village budget, he says.

The board also identified 70 younger, healthy trees it believed would survive with treatment, Rohr says.

But the borer hasn't arrived in Fairport, he says, so the village isn't going to remove any trees this year. 

"If the borer is not going to make it, we don't want to take down fine, perfectly good trees," Rohr says.
The board's decision highlights a simple fact: the spread of the emerald ash borer in Monroe County has been well-controlled. Mark Gooding, a regional forester for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, says the borer has been spreading in the county, mostly in the southern portion, and mostly in an east-west direction. (The DEC's most recent map of documented emerald ash borer infestations is available here.)

But the spread has been limited to what Gooding calls "natural movement." In other words, state bans on transporting ash trees and wood have limited the spread of the beetle. Without human assistance, he says, an infestation can only spread a few miles.


So while it's important for communities to have plans to address the future of their ash tree populations, Gooding says, some may actually have a little breathing room.

"It's one of those slow-moving crises," Gooding says.

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