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Prevention the best measure

This week has been declared Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week by Gov. John Hoeven.

Maybe not a big deal to some, but in reality it is, in that an infestation could wipe out the state's ash tree population, which numbers approximately 78 million trees, with ash one of the primary trees species in many North Dakota communities as well as in rural plantings and native forest areas.

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) attacks and kills all species of ash trees. The larvae feed under the bark, disrupting the movement of water and nutrients and killing the tree within several years. Many millions of ash trees have been killed wherever the insect has been detected.

Native to Asia, it was probably introduced on solid wood packing material associated with cargo shipments. First detected in the U.S. in the summer of 2002 in the Detroit area and adjacent areas in Ontario, it now occurs from the east coast, south to Kentucky and west to Minnesota and Iowa. The nearest known infestation is in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, making it more important than ever to take action in our state to prevent its presence here.

In an effort to create awareness about accomplishing just that, city foresters in all of North Dakota's larger communities, including Yvette Gehrke in West Fargo, are placing ribbons, along with informational flyers, on publicly-owned ash trees to demonstrate the tree loss that this pest will cause. State parks will also be participating.

In West Fargo, the flyers have been posted on ash trees around City Hall, on 9th Street in front of the High School and on 4th Avenue.

About two years ago the city of West Fargo implemented a trap system spearheaded by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture, as part of a nationwide effort involving 49 states. Eight traps are set up in ash trees at various locations throughout the city to test for the bug's presence. Because of the usage of firewood, there is also one located at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds campgrounds.

The two-foot-long, three-sided, purple traps are made with non-toxic glue and baited with a lure attractive to emerald ash borers. The traps will be monitored through July during the adult flight period. Anyone noticing any of these traps in trees is asked to leave them alone.

Overall, there are a total of 250 EAB traps throughout the state, in cities, state parks, recreation areas, campgrounds, rest stops, county fairgrounds and ports of entry.

EAB basically spreads slowly but it can also be carried into an area from out of state on infected firewood and also on ash nursery stock trees shipped in for planting here. That's why residents are encouraged to purchase firewood and trees from local sources and encouraged not to haul firewood back from out of state. It should also be pointed out it is a federal offense to move uncertified firewood out of the areas under quarantine for EAB.

Gehrke encourages everyone to be on the lookout for any strange goings-on with any of your trees. If you suspect there is a problem with EAB or any other tree affliction you are encouraged to call Gehrke at the forestry department at 701-433-5400 and she will be happy to come out and take a look.

More information about EAB is available on the NDDA website at