Protecting trees and forests

Brad Simpkins, Interim Director and State Forester, Division of Forests and Lands, Dept. of Resources and Economic Development, press conference prepared remarks, April 8, 201

Brad Simpkins, Interim Director and State Forester, Division of Forests and Lands, Department of Resources and Economic Development, press conference prepared remarks, April 8, 2013

Good afternoon, and thank you for being here.  As Karen said, my name is Brad Simpkins of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, Division of Forests and Lands.  Our agency will be leading the effort to determine the extent of where this beetle is present, referred to as the delimiting survey, as well as determining appropriate control methods to slow the spread of the beetle.  Our forest rangers will also be assisting in the enforcement of the quarantine that Director Siegert explained.

I’d like to start out by explaining briefly what the delimiting survey will entail, and what the residents of Concord can expect in the weeks ahead.  The survey will be a critical part of the process, for we won’t know the appropriate management and control strategies to implement until we know the size and scope of the issue we are dealing with.

Already, the department has divided an area of four square miles around the infested tree into 64 blocks, with each block representing 40 acres.  Within each block, there will be inspections of the ash trees.  The inspections will consist of visual tree examinations and tree sampling, and you can expect to see staff throughout the area.  The sampling will consist of cutting at least two ash trees in every block or pruning large branches from two trees.  We will be looking for the public’s help and cooperation as we conduct these inspections; it will be vitally important. If a Concord resident has ash trees with any sign of poor health and you would like to offer that tree for sampling, please call 1-800-444-8978 or go to www.nhbugs.org and we will contact you.  Any staff assisting in this survey effort will be carrying identification linking them to the State Division of Forests and Lands EAB survey operation and will present this identification to anyone requesting it.  We will be making significant efforts to reach out and communicate with area homeowners, and of course we are available to answer concerns or questions.

This inspection will be a significant effort, but we hope to be able to finish the bulk of the work in the next 4-6 weeks, assuming our survey area doesn’t grow larger than the four square mile area.  Therefore, starting this week, staff from our department will begin the inspection process.  Given the scope of the job ahead, we will also be employing the assistance of many other entities, including several other state, university and federal agencies, as well as several non-governmental conservation organizations.  The forestry departments of the surrounding states of Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts have also already offered assistance.

In addition to the targeted survey just described within Concord, forest rangers from our department will be conducting inspections of any timber harvests in a radius of 6 miles surrounding the find, including Hopkinton, Chichester, Dunbarton, Pembroke, Loudon, Hooksett, Epsom, Canterbury, and Bow, inspecting log and trees for the presence or signs of the beetle.  These inspections will also begin this week.

Many people have asked about management strategies and potential control options they may want to implement immediately.  We want to caution the Concord community to be patient as we need to complete the survey before we announce the management strategy.  Once we have a clearer picture of the size and scope of the issue, there are some management alternatives to consider.  The potential control options will likely include pesticide applications, tree removals, and the development of trap tree zones designed to lure emerald ash borers to specific trees that will be destroyed during the winter months.  For those few that want to cut trees or start pesticide treatments as soon as possible please consult professional advice, gather several bids, and insist on work being done by insured, licensed arborists and applicators.