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Cornell Combats the Emerald Ash Borer
The College Acts Preemptively


Students in a print media class marked this ash tree on Cornell's campus as part of a site-specific art installation. Hundreds of ash and hemlock trees were tagged to help people imagine what the campus would look like if those trees were removed due to either the EAB or the hemlock wooly adelgid.
Photo Credit: Lindsay France/Cornell University Photography

In March 2018, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was identified in downtown Ithaca, N.Y., which is just a mile from Cornell's campus. Due to this, faculty members have reason to believe that the EAB is actually present on the campus, just not detected yet.

Todd Bittner, Cornell's Botanic Gardens Director of Natural Areas, had this to say, "[The EAB] has not yet been detected in campus trees. However, it is highly likely to be present, but simply not detected; EAB is extremely difficult to detect in low densities."

This suspicion has been in the mind of faculty for years, because in 2009 the Ithaca campus Grounds Department has kept a tally of all ash trees in high-use natural areas of campus. Information on every aspect of the ash trees was recorded, including: their location, size, height, lean, target and removal obstacles.

Bittner relates, "This information was critical in order to adequately plan and budget for the arrival of EAB. The majority of these trees will be cut and removed proactively." He adds that 36 accessioned ash trees, located in the botanic gardens, will be treated with a basal bark application of Dinotefuran - which is an insecticide of the neonicotinoid class. This application will be reapplied annually.

Another treatment form that the university will implement is an injection of Emanmectin Benzoate, which, according to Bittner, "Provides for 2-3 years of control depending on tree health and site conditions."

Other than these two insecticide applications, the last tactic the college will implore is the removal of specific ash trees. David Cutter, the school's landscape architect, states, "Approximately 75 ash trees were prioritized for treatment, with the remainder to be removed over the next year. The majority of the removals would be performed by a contractor arborist and include grinding of the stump. A replanting plan will be developed to replace at least half of the ash trees removed with appropriate species."

Since 2011, public partners from around Tompkins County have banded together to form the Tompkins County EAB Task Force which aims to raise awareness of the issue, provide reliable information, monitor the status and prepare for the arrival of the EAB in Tompkins County.

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February 28, 2020, 2:04 am PDT

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