An Ash Worth Saving: Program protects trees from invasive beetle

by | Jan 27, 2021

Pesticide treatment for emerald ash borer, Grandfather Mountain State Park
Photo courtesy of N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation

In 2013, the emerald ash borer was first found in North Carolina. Its discovery was met with dread. This invasive beetle had already become notorious by devastating the forests in the Midwest and Northeast. We knew it killed trees and spread quickly. The future was not bright for North Carolina’s ash trees.

Predictions of imminent devastation have been confirmed. Since its initial discovery, the emerald ash borer has continued to spread across the state. As of January 2021, the tree-killing beetle is known to occur in 62 of our 100 counties. North Carolina is losing its ash trees quickly, both in forest and urban settings.

Damage from the emerald ash borer
Damage from the emerald ash borer
Photo: Kelly Oten, N.C. Forest Service

Ash is a popular choice for urban plantings and seeing large ash trees forming a canopy over a street is not an uncommon sight. In North Carolina, these areas are now in danger. The emerald ash borer is already in or near the most populous urban areas in the state including Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Durham and Asheville.

Help is available for protecting community ash trees. The N.C. Forest Service Forest Health program aids local and state agencies, and nonprofit organizations in protecting ash trees in urban areas and parks through the Ash Protection Program (APP). With funds from a USDA Forest Service grant, assistance is available for groups and localities to protect ash resources with an approved pesticide. Funding is limited and priority is given to larger ash trees and ash trees with historical significance, trees in recreation or high visibility areas, or areas on sites where tree failure would present a high risk to life and property.

Applications for funding are now being accepted and must be received by Feb. 26, 2021 for spring and summer treatments. For further information or to apply for the program, visit the Ash Protection Program website.