ODNR DIVISION OF FORESTY RECEIVES $1,000,000 FEDERAL GRANT TO ASSIST IN EFFORTS TO STOP THE EMERALD ASH BORER FROM SPREADING ACROSS OHIO
COLUMBUS, OH - A $1,000,000 grant from the U. S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service will help the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry in its efforts to stop the emerald ash borer (EAB) from spreading across Ohio.
“This funding will allow us to hire four foresters who will be dedicated to assisting private landowners and communities who are threatened by the emerald ash borer,” said John Dorka, chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry. “This invasive exotic pest poses the most significant threat to Ohio’s forests in decades. If it is not stopped now in northern Ohio, it may sweep across our state and through the rest of the Eastern United States, causing billions of dollars in damage and eliminating an important forest species.”
Since being discovered in southeastern Michigan in June 2002, the emerald ash borer has killed as many as15 million ash trees and has since been found in more than a dozen isolated locations in northwest Ohio.
“Ash trees make up about one in 10 trees in Ohio’s forests,” said Dorka. “Not only are they common in our woodlots, but also in communities around the state. Our urban foresters have estimated that it will cost Ohio private home and business owners more than a billion dollars to remove dead ash trees from their yards if this pest spreads throughout the entire state.”
The federal grant will help fund some key recommendations of the National Science Advisory Panel assembled to address EAB. One of the key guidelines stresses the importance of working with private landowners in potential infestation areas to voluntarily remove ash trees that serve as EAB host sites.
Using these funds, the Division of Forestry will provide economic incentive for community residents to remove potential EAB brood trees and assist the state in early detection.
The U.S. Forest Service grant funds will help accomplish this by:
- Hiring foresters: The grant will allow the ODNR Division of Forestry to hire four foresters dedicated to assisting with emerald ash borer programs. These foresters will work in cooperation with ODNR’s existing service forester program to assist private landowners dealing with potential infestations by the emerald ash borer.
- Exploring/promoting new ash markets: A portion of the funds will be used to focus on the utilization of the tremendous amount of wood being harvested as a result of the emerald ash borer infestation and to facilitate markets that can safely use the material. Efforts will include exploring use of the green energy source for local municipal and school boilers. Established markets that use wood and wood fiber as a raw material in the production of everything from animal bedding to baseball bats will be targeted as potential partners in an effort to use the material for its highest value use.
- Community Ash Reduction Initiative: This grant will enable the ODNR Division of Forestry to implement the Ohio Community Ash Reduction Initiative. The main objective of the initiative is a significant reduction in the number of ash trees growing on city, village, township, and private properties in high priority EAB management areas. EAB-threatened communities in northwest Ohio will be offered the opportunity to participate in this effort. Using grant funds, municipalities will coordinate an awareness campaign for ash tree owners in their community, host a public meeting to directly share information, create an owner’s database of removable ash trees, and facilitate the removal process with commercial arboricultural companies. Using these funds, the Division of Forestry will provide economic incentive for community residents to preemptively remove potential EAB brood trees. This is a voluntary initiative targeting high-risk communities.