Published September 5, 2017
AKWESASNE — The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Forestry Resources Program and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the presence of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in the southern portion of the Akwesasne community. The announcement was made in response to a positive trap catch and examination the tribal program conducted last week at acommunity member’s property located along State Route 37.
“The Tribe’s Environment Division has been monitoring the spread of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) since 2003,” said Environment Division Assistant Director Les Benedict. He added, “It was most recently identified in the territory on Cornwall Island in 2015 and earlier confirmed in the City of Cornwall in 2013. We have been surveying the community for EAB since 2008 because of earlier confirmations in the Kingston Ontario area.”
The Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive beetle native to Asia that was accidentally introduced to the United States. Since its discovery in the State of Michigan in 2002, the destructive pest has been responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of Ash trees across the country.
“The extent of the EAB infestation is unknown at this time,” said Forest Conservation Technician Aaron Barrigar. He noted, “One beetle was found in one trap, so in order to determine the EAB population Tom Colarusso from the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service and myself will be cutting and peeling the suspected-EAB infested tree. After peeling, we will be able to better characterize the situation and generate a threat based management response.”
It is anticipated that the presence of the Emerald Ash Borer will have an economic, ecological, social and cultural impact on the community of Akwesasne. In preparation, some of the steps the Tribe’s Forestry Resources Program have taken include Ash seed collection, an Ash Importation Permit, Early Detection Rapid Response Forest Pest Trapping, The Ash Mitigation Project and the creation of the “Akwesasne Mohawk Territory Emerald Ash Borer Community Response Plan.”
The Tribe’s Environment Division has been working with the community groups, including the Akwesasne Task Force on the Environment and the Akwesasne Cultural Center, to develop plans to deal with the insect and its impacts to Black Ash trees and basket-making. They will also be working in partnership with multiple agencies to implement additional response actions and strategies, which will be a coordinated effort to delay and protect the Akwesasne community’s remaining Ash trees.
Travel corridors represent the greatest risk for the introduction of EAB due to the potential for transport of infested wood products, such as firewood. As a result, community members are encouraged to join efforts to prevent the spread of EAB by limiting the importation of firewood into the community. Instead, individuals are encouraged to only use locally-sourced firewood.
For more information, please contact the SRMT Environment Division’s Forestry Resources Program at 449 Frogtown Rd in Akwesasne, New York. You may also phone (518) 358-5937 or email Forest Conservation Technician Aaron Barrigar at[email protected].
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