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Regional Forest Pests Discussed as Ellicottville’s Nannen Arboretum Celebrates Arbor Day

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By Rick Miller

Nannen Arboretum members celebrated Arbor Day on April 27 with the planting of a new American larch tree.

It’s called Tamarack (larix laricina), Nan Miller said of the 6-foot larch, as Job Lowry shoveled dirt over the root ball. It was donated by John Rosier of Springville who owns Forevergreens, she said.

The young tree is a native which can tolerate marshy areas, was planted among nearly 400 other trees at the arboretum, located behind the Ellicottville Town Center on Parkside Drive.

Miller said recent high winds and heavy snow caused extensive damage to more than 30 percent of trees at the arboretum.

“There’s a tremendous amount of damage,” she said. “We lost two hawthorns and a maple.”

Earlier in the week, volunteers gathered to pick up a lot of the larger branches that fell in the arboretum. A Town of Ellicottville DPW crew came by to chip up the branches for mulch.

There are two more storm cleanup sessions scheduled: Saturday, May 12 and Thursday, May 17, both from 9 a.m. to noon. Pruners and chainsaws are needed for the cleanup. There is also some high work that may take special equipment.

“We’re here every Monday,” Miller said of the core group of arboretum volunteers.

Prior to the tree planting ceremony, David Paradowski, a regional forester with Region 9 of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, updated the audience of about 20 on issues from the emerald ash borer (EAB) to hemlock wooly adelgid (HWA), to the American chestnut and oak wilt.

Paradowski said about five years ago some parasites that are natural predators of the EAB were released in the Randolph and South Valley areas, where the beetle had ravaged forests and ornamental trees. The invasive species from China was first found in New York in the Randolph area.

The DEC is expected to lift a quarantine on ash logs being moved out of the area soon. The quarantine limiting the movement of firewood to a 50-mile radius will stay in effect, Paradowski told the group. The DEC has sold some ash logs on state forest land that were infested with EAB. The logs are quickly processed, killing EAB larvae in the wood beneath the bark.

“It doesn’t mean we’re still not going to try to stop it,” Paradowski said.

The regional forester said hemlock wooly adelgid appears to have been controlled at a few sites in Zoar Valley where it was detected several years ago. The affected trees were treated with chemicals which seem to have staved off the HWA. Another survey of the area was conducted last fall.

Two trees in Allegany State park with HWA were cut up and burned so the parasite wouldn’t spread to unaffected hemlocks.

No new HWA infestations have been detected in Cattaraugus County, Paradowski said. Volunteers are looking for signs of it — white patches at the base of hemlock needles. It can be hard to spot. The DEC may use a drone to help in the survey.

The DEC and Cornell University have teamed up to test new biocontrols, predators that eat HWA. A lab is being assembled at Cornell and a hemlock hedge is growing at Zoar Valley to raise and release the predators.

American chestnut studies are ongoing at a Zoar Valley site as well, Paradowski said.

Researchers are looking at crossing the American chestnut — most of which have succumbed to a blight — with the Chinese chestnut, and introducing a wheat gene into American chestnuts that may keep them from dying from the blight. Transgenic chestnut trees may be ready for release into the wild in the next few years, he said.

DEC is also coming up with an action plan to fight oak wilt which is moving slowly from east to west across New York state. Important ground and aerial surveys are being conducted to manage the wilt which can kill a red oak in as little as one year, while a white oak might hold on for up to seven years after being infected.

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