|Back to Home||Feature Article - August 16, 2012|
Emerald Ash Borer confirmed in Frontenac CountyBy Jeff Green
So far, it is all about a single insect.
The Canadian Food inspection Agency (CFIA) has been looking for emerald ash borers in Eastern Ontario counties for several years. The small green insects feed on ash trees, and in doing so they cause the destruction of the majority of host trees.
Last week it was confirmed that the borer has found a home in Frontenac County.
The location of the confirmed insect was not divulged in the announcement by Frontenac County, but we have contacted the campground owner involved.
The CFIA approached them in 2011 and asked if they could search for borers on their property. Campgrounds are seen as likely entry points for the insects because people often bring in their own firewood, even though this is prohibited, as that firewood could contain insects or insect larva.
In 2011 the CFIA found no evidence of the borers at the campground, but this summer a camper approached the campground operators about ash trees losing their leaves early in July, so the operators contacted CFIA to come have a look.
The CFIA used a new bait to look for borers, and lo and behold they found one. They found that the ash trees at the campground show no signs of damage, and no immediate action is planned.
According to a CFIA document, the agency has abandoned the practice of cutting down infected ash trees, which they did do earlier in the decade-old battle against the spread of the insect in southwestern Ontario.
“The CFIA has determined that removing infested host is not an effective tool in managing the emerald ash borer,” says an agency document.
However, once the borer is confirmed in an Ontario county, it does lead to regulation of the transport of lumber out of that county.
At this point Frontenac County is not yet a regulated zone, but that will be determined later this summer or early this fall.
As the map reproduced attests, it can hardly be a surprise that the emerald ash borer has been found locally, as it had already moved as far east as Durham County in its direct march east from the Windsor-Detroit border, and a secondary infestation in the Ottawa region had also spread as far west as Leeds and Grenville, making Frontenac County look like another domino as Eastern Ontario is filled in from two directions.
According to Frontenac County Sustainability Planner Joe Gallivan, ash accounts for 15% of the forest cover in Frontenac County, and although its commercial value is not that high, the inevitable inclusion of Frontenac County as an Emerald Ash Borer Regulated Area could impact the local logging industry in the short term.
Ken Gould runs a saw mill and logging operation on Road 509 in Central Frontenac.
He was visited by CFIA representatives in May. They wanted to know if he had seen the emerald ash borer in the bush and they also told him that he could not ship any ash to certain parts of the province.
“I didn’t pay too much attention because it doesn’t apply to me,” said Ken Gould, “and although I never have seen an emerald ash borer, I do know that all the ash trees are dying in the bush, so I think they are probably too late to do anything about it.”
Gould estimates that in the territory around his property, ash represents about 2-3% of the forest cover - nowhere near the 15% that Joe Gallivan talked about for Frontenac County as a whole. He also said that the maple trees in the area are dying off in larger numbers than normal as well, but he does not know the reason for that.
Ken Gould, along with a number of others in Frontenac County, sells most of his wood these days as fire wood, whether as cut and split wood or, more commonly, by the load in 8 foot lengths. However, in Central Frontenac at least, ash is rarely part of the loads that are delivered. Maple, oak and occasionally, birch, most commonly make up the loads.
It is too soon to say if regulations that will come in as the result of the confirmation of the Emerald Ash Borer will affect the sale and delivery of firewood throughout Frontenac County, or to neighbouring counties.
According to the CFIA, regulations are put in place for three reasons: “to slow the spread of the insect; to protect the health of Canada’s trees and forests; and to prevent losses to the nursery, lumber and tourism industries and to municipalities.”
Anecdotally, some other people have told the News that ash trees on their properties have been dying off in the last year or two.