Asian Longhorned Beetle that is threat to Catskills is focus of Sept. 3 program

Arkville — The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) are hosting a public training on September 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Catskill Center to address the potential threat of an Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation in the Catskill Mountain Region.
The training will describe infestation risks, inform the public of current infestations and prevention efforts, conduct a mock survey exercise, and recruit volunteers to join the ongoing survey effort. The training is free and open to the public. Registration is requested by September 2.  Catskill Center Educator and Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership Coordinator Ben Murdock will lead the training.
This training will build upon the increasing awareness of forest pests, particularly with the recent discovery of emerald ash borer in New York. The training is designed for those interested in surveying the Catskills and surrounding areas for possible forest pest outbreaks such as the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) and Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). Those interested in identification, survey, and risks of forest pests, especially our forests’ first defenders – including arborists, foresters, road crews, hikers, hunters, campers, birders, scouts, and other outdoor enthusiasts – should attend.
The Asian Longhorned Beetle is a large wood-boring insect that attacks hardwood trees and now poses a threat to the Catskills. The insect probably traveled to the United States inside solid wood packing material from China. Maple and birch, both dominant tree species in the Catskills, are the preferred hosts for this insect. The ALB has the potential to have a bigger impact on our forests than Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight and the gypsy moth combined and estimated impacts to tourism, lumber and maple syrup production alone could be in the billions of dollars nationwide.
The first ALB infestation in New York State was discovered in Brooklyn in 1996. Subsequent outbreaks were found in both Long Island and Staten Island and in neighboring New Jersey. In 2008, infested trees were found in Worcester, Massachusetts where it seems to have gone undetected for over a decade. It is imperative that here in the Catskills we take action to come up with a rapid response program that includes prevention, early detection and strategies to battle any outbreak that may arise. This workshop is an important step in this process.
So far the only effective way of containing this beetle is cutting and chipping the infested trees. The transport of infested wood greatly enhances the spread of the ALB. In an effort to protect forests from destructive invasive species, including ALB, the NYSDEC enacted a new regulation on June 3, 2008 which bans importing firewood into New York State unless it has been treated (kiln-dried) and prohibits the movement of untreated firewood within the state more than 50 miles from its source.
For info, contact Ben Murdock at 845 586 2611 ext. 108 or e-mail: bmurdock @catskillcenter.org.