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Central New York prepares for the Emerald Ash Borer

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

It's only a matter of time before the ash tree population in central New York is decimated by the Emerald Ash Borer. A task force is at work getting ready for the invasion of the deadly insects, that are now in massive numbers only two counties away from Onondaga County.

The insect  has killed most of the ash trees in Michigan, and  has struck the Rochester area with full force.   Already the city of Syracuse has taken down some small ash trees as part of a long term removal and replacement plan.  Jessi Lyons, of the Cornell Cooperative Extension, heads up a task force in Onondaga County preparing for the destructive insects, and she says, so far, so good.

"We are at the point where we haven't been able to find an infested tree yet.  If you can get to it now when the population density is low that means you have many more years to manage the trees before it's a crisis," Lyons said.

The task force is preparing information for governments and homeowners who will have to deal with the insect.

"We are at the point of trying to understand what the best management approach will be. There's a couple different things you can do.  If you have a healthy tree, and you want to save it, you can use pesticide to protect it. If you have a tree that is very old, or already a hazard, the best thing is to remove the tree and replant it with something else," said Lyons.

Lyons says she worries more about homeowners, who may bear the brunt of this.

"Because there's municipalities who can find money who can help with management strategy. But the private landowner is facing a lot of money to either treat or remove their trees."

Lyons says she wouldn't suggest homeowners take any action yet, but be prepared consider treating trees with pesticide or taking them down when the insects finally make it to central New York.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.