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Emerald Ash Borer discovered in Onondaga County

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Now that the Emerald Ash Borer, or EAB, has been discovered in Onondaga County a special task force will begin making decisions about the future of ash trees, which account for 13 percent of the trees in central New York.

The EAB can kill an ash tree in as little as two years. Central New York Emerald Ash Borer Task Force member David Coburn says the result is that many trees will either be treated with pesticide or chopped down.

"It's not so much that it's gonna change the face of this community, as we're going to have to manage the possibility that a lot of these trees are going to be falling down around us if we don't do something now," Coburn said.

The beetle was discovered just north of Carrier Circle in Dewitt, in a trap placed there by the task force, says Member Jesse Lyons of the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

"That trap in particular, was looked at two weeks prior, and there was no bug," Lyons said. "So we're at a point where we have people inspecting traps and suspicious bugs are being found and it'll take a while for those to be confirmed, but those bugs weren't there just two weeks ago."

David Coburn, who also serves as director of the Onondaga County Office of the Environment, says the first step for the task force is to find out exactly where the ash borers are. From there, decisions will be made weather to treat trees with pesticides or chop them down. The plan is to deal with things quickly.

"The problem they had in the Midwest is that the infestation spread so rapidly they weren't able to keep up with the trees that were dying, so trees were falling down around them. Our objective is to manage trees in a way so we stay ahead of that situation and we have enough people available to cut down trees as fast as they're falling."

The city of Syracuse and Onondaga County have already started thinning ash trees in the area, as the arrival of the bug was inevitable. Coburn says it'll be an expensive endeavor to deal with the dying trees.

"Our expectation is that the cost of managing ash trees just on county property, will be in the millions of dollars."

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.