You Can Help Save Our Ashes
The emerald ash borer beetle (EAB) has been wreaking havoc in Western North Carolina.
If you are not familiar with the emerald ash borer, it is a small, metallic-green beetle from Eurasia that is fatal to all species of North American ash trees. The larvae of EAB bore holes into and kill infested ash trees within three to five years. In WNC, we have three native species of ash: white ash, green ash and Biltmore ash — which was described at and named for the Biltmore School of Forestry in Buncombe County where the first herbarium specimen was collected in 1898.
Ash trees grow large and graceful, with straight trunks and long-spreading branches. They are often planted as street trees and EAB has inflicted billions of dollars of damage to landscape trees in the central U.S. The wood of ash trees is valuable for furniture and its wood is traditionally used in baseball bats and for the bodies of the iconic Fender Stratocaster guitar.
Here in WNC, ash trees grow in rich coves and slopes, and the tallest known white ash on Earth occurs in Haywood County. While they may not be the most abundant trees, our ashes are important to our cultural and natural heritage, and they are going the way of the dodo. EAB is present in Haywood, Madison, and Buncombe counties and will spread throughout the region in the coming years. If we do nothing, every single ash tree will die. That’s why MountainTrue has launched a project called Save Our Ashes.
Our first step was to document where ash trees occur. Throughout the fall and winter of 2016/17 we trained volunteers to go into the forests, identify and map groves of trees that are especially important for their recreational, aesthetic, ecological and genetic value. We’ve also worked with the U.S. Forest Service to expedite an approval process so that we can treat these trees with insecticides, the only way to save ash from the borer.
We are doing what we can to treat as many trees as possible, but we need your help. We need funds to save these historically and culturally significant ash tree stands. The cost of saving each tree is approximately $90, which covers the cost of treating the tree for 3 consecutive years to ensure its survival. Time is running out, as are the number of trees that have yet to be infected by the Emerald Ash Borer and can still be saved.