FOREST GROVE, OR -- A small, invasive beetle is expected to cause big problems in the coming months. A city of Portland employee recently spotted the Emerald Ash Borers while picking up his kids from summer camp in Forest Grove. Entomologist Christine Buhl was the first to respond from the Oregon Department of Forestry, "There were 16 trees and every single one of them was in a state of dead or dying. It was pretty bad. These trees were almost finished off; many beetles flying around the canopies, that had just emerged." Once the beetles emerge, though, the damage is already done. Buhl tells KBND News EAB kill ash trees when the larvae burrow under the bark and feed on the soft tissue just inside, and they can take out entire stands before they move on looking for new host trees. Ash trees are critical to stream habitat in Oregon, providing shade to wildlife and fish, while the roots help prevent erosion.
"We are bracing for a scenario in which we may lose most of our Ash. It does take time for that to happen, so we have time to act." Buhl adds, "It’s going to be a heavy cost financially, but also ecologically, especially where we have pockets of Ash where it’s almost 100% tree Ash canopy."
ODF has been preparing for the EAB’s arrival for years by collecting Oregon Ash seeds so they can be replanted. The beetle was first discovered in the U.S. in Michigan in 2002, but this is the first infastation on the west coast. "There is something we can do to slow the spread. Eradication in total has not been successful in each state that has tried it." To contain the spread, ODF urges you not to transport firewood or other wood products that could carry the beetle larvae, and report die-offs of ash trees and sightings of the small beetle.