March 11, 2009: Forest threatened by many predators

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To The Editor:
Considering the financial melt down in progress this may seem like a minor matter but, it is not for forest landowners in the northeast. We have had many major problems in the past with invasive insects destroying our forests and we are enduring some now that are out of control.
Some examples are the Emerald Ash Borer, which is about to destroy the ash trees, and the Wooly Adelgid, which is working its way up the Hudson Valley and killing our hemlocks. Our oaks are threatened with Oak Wilt and Sudden Oak Death syndrome, diseases of which little is known. The one that there is a lot known is the Asian Long Horned Beetle (ALB). This critter arrived in wooden pallets from China and if left unchecked has the potential of wiping out all the hardwoods, particularly the sugar maples, of not only the Catskills but also the whole north east.
The ALB, first discovered in Brooklyn in 1996, and later discovered in Chicago and in some counties in New Jersey, where it is believed to have been eradicated using extreme measures. Recently it has been discovered in Worcester, Mass. The potential for economic, social, and environmental effects if this pest were to become established in the Catskills is extensive.
To counter and increase awareness of this threat and others to our forests the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is developing a day-long conference that will inform stakeholders, forest landowners and others, how to detect these invasive and very destructive species. There will be a description of a mock exercise of what a rapid response by the DEC to a discovery of the ALB would be like in our area. This might well include, and most likely would, the clear cutting of many, many acres around the point of discovery. There would be no heed to the boundary lines of properties, private and other and the DEC has the lawful right to do this.
As a landowner, and knowledgeable of the potential disastrous effects of an unchecked infestation of the ALB, and knowing the cataclysmic impact of the DEC’s response would be if it occurred on or near my land, I would remain supportive of their efforts to eradicate it. I suggest landowners and other stakeholders take note, get informed and if possible attend the conference, which will be held on Wednesday, May 6 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Upper Lodge at Belleayre.
Save the date, information on registration will be forth coming in the near future.

Jack McShane, treasurer
Catskill Landowners’ Association