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Plague of (Forest) Pests

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Threats to forest health from three exotic insect pests including Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, Asian Longhorn Beetle and Emerald Ash Borer loom large over the vast forests of NH. The veritable insect rogues gallery is at our doorstep after killing trees in nearby states.

Kyle Lombard, Forest Health Program Coordinator at the NH Division of Forests and Lands says these pests present several challenges and the potential damage to NH forests and community street trees, is high. Lombard asserts these pests are (to quote) “the Gypsy moth and Chestnut blight of our generation. Fifty years from now, State and federal forest health programs will be judged based on how well we combat these threats today.”

The mild winter didn’t help. Winter surveys revealed new Hemlock Adelgid infestations in Concord and Deering. While small, they’re farther north than the existing infested areas along the Seacoast and in Nashua. The Emerald Ash Borer has NOT yet been discovered in NH. But it's only 90 miles away in Quebec and in New York State along the Hudson River.

The Asian Longhorn Beetle infestation is even closer in Worcester Massachusetts where it has been aggressively controlled yet recently found outside the city. Six infected trees discovered in Boston were promptly removed with no further infestation. The Massachusetts moral is: Find it early and it costs a few thousand dollars… or find it 15 years later like Worcester and it costs tens of millions of dollars annually for decades.

Public outreach pays off. A critical message is to NOT transport firewood or campfire wood to vacation homes or when camping this summer. To keep unseen insect pests out of NH, the best practice is to purchase local firewood when you arrive.

Naturalist Dave Anderson is Senior Director of Education for The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, where he has worked for over 30 years. He is responsible for the design and delivery of conservation-related outreach education programs including field trips, tours and presentations to Forest Society members, conservation partners, and the general public.

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