More on the Emerald Ash Borer, and Personal Responsibility

Last week, I wrote about emerald ash borers in Louisville, and the toll the pest could take on the city’s tree canopy. So, if you have an ash tree in your yard, what can you do?

  1. Take inventory. Figure out whether you have any ash trees on your property, or on city right-of-ways near your property.
  2. Decide what those trees are worth to you, or what you can afford to spend on them. Though treating the trees can be expensive, any tree that’s not treated will probably die. Keep in mind that it could be more expensive later on to remove dead trees to protect your property.

Also remember that the pest is spread from county to county mainly through people moving firewood. If you’re going camping in another county, gather firewood once you get there.

It’s worth noting, too that some areas of Louisville have more ash trees than others, and will thus be disproportionately affected once the emerald ash borer takes its toll. For her masters thesis in 2009, Shannon Scroggins at the University of Louisville did a subsample of 10 plots in residential areas of 10 of Louisville’s council districts. 

In her sample, Scroggins looked at plots in Districts 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 14, 18, 24 and 25. Based on her data, only four of those districts are significantly vulnerable to emerald ash borer. She calculated that nearly 10 percent of the trees in District 5 could be lost, six percent of the trees in District 18 and 11 percent of the trees in District 14.

But District 8’s risk is well above average: without treatment, Scroggins calculated the district could lose up to a third of its trees.

The rest of the districts have a “0 percent” risk according to Scroggins’ research, which means there were no ash trees in her sampling areas. It’s a statistical zero, and can be interpreted as there being fewer ash trees in these districts. But because she didn’t perform a complete inventory, it doesn’t actually mean there is no risk to that district’s tree canopy.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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