Blogs > Docket > Emerald Ash Borer Update: The DEC Takes Action

Emerald Ash Borer Update: The DEC Takes Action


Photo via Flickr / U.S. Department of Agriculture
View more images on our Flickr site

We recently posted information about the destructive little beetle known as the emerald ash borer. There are new developments in this important issue.

Photo via Flickr / U.S. Department of Agriculture

Photo via Flickr / U.S. Department of Agriculture

The beetle, an invasive species which is not native to these parts, has become quite a problem in New York and now threatens the New York City Watershed lands. New York is not alone. So far, the emerald as borer has destroyed over 50 million ash trees in the United States. The pest is native to Asia and was first discovered in Michigan in 2002. Within seven years, the infestation had spread to New York state. By 2015, the emerald ash borer was attacking ash trees in 25 states. Since 2010 the beetle has been infesting parts of the 1,600-square-mile New York City water supply lands in the Catskill Mountains, where over 4,000 ash trees have been lost so far. The quality and viability of these forested lands is very important – they supply unfiltered drinking water to nine million consumers in New York City and over 60 upstate communities in the Hudson Valley.

7 percent of the watershed forests are at risk.

Trees Protect Our Water Quality.

The forested Catskills are important for water quality protection. The forest and its trees intercept and absorb rainwater, stabilize stream banks, provide shade to cool streams, remove nutrients and filter out sediment from stormwater. Deforestation impairs water quality by compromising soil structure and increasing erosion, runoff and water temperature. With 550,000 acres of land covered by ash trees in the Catskill Mountains and Hudson Valley, the destruction of a large number of these trees would have severe and costly consequences for the millions of consumers who rely on the City’s Catskill water supply system for clean drinking water.

Relief May Be On The Way.

New York state has been working to address the spreading beetle infestation. On October 21, 2015, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation gave notice to the public that it has issued a new regulation to prevent the further spread of this invasive insect species. The regulation establishes quarantine areas intended to restrict the movement of the emerald ash borer by regulating the movement of ash trees, logs, nursery stock, firewood, chips, stumps, roots, and branches in infested areas throughout the state.

Ash Trees Need to Stay Put If Eradication of This Pest Is Possible.

Currently, 44 New York counties, including Ulster and Greene Counties in the Catskills, are under the emerald ash borer quarantine. Movement of ash trees and their byproducts from within these restricted zones is prohibited unless inspected and cleared by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Regulated articles from outside a restricted zone can only travel through a restricted zone if the origin and the destination are listed on a waybill and the articles are moved without stopping. The emerald ash borer does not spread fast or far on its own, people spread the pest by transporting infested ash tree materials from state to state. Restricting human movement of potentially infested ash material will slow the spread and help protect communities and ash trees in local forests from ash borer destruction.

The regulation takes an important step of confining the emerald ash borer to areas that limit its food supply. When the ash borer has exhausted its food supply in the quarantined areas, the beetles will no longer be able to reproduce and this pest will be effectively eradicated from those areas. These efforts may halt the loss of large tracts of ash forest in New York state.

For further information on the emerald ash borer and the new quarantine regulation, contact: Bruce Williamson, DEC Division of Lands and Forests, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4253. Phone: (518) 402-9425.

Tell Gov. Hochul to block invasive species at the Erie and Champlain canals
Become a Member