The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive beetle whose larvae feeds upon the inner bark of ash trees. This interferes with the ash tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients, eventually resulting in the death of the tree. EAB is responsible for killing hundreds of millions of ash trees across the U.S. The dying trees pose a public safety threat in populated areas because the trunk becomes brittle, making the trees difficult to remove and liable to fall on roads and houses.
Vermont’s forestlands average 5-7% ash but can be 40% or higher in places. Ash are commonly found along rural roads. Although not yet identified in Guilford, EAB has recently been confirmed in northern Windham County and in nearby Stamford, so it’s critical for our town and individual landowners to plan for the treatment, removal, or replacement of their ash trees.
The Guilford Conservation Commission has proactively begun this planning, coordinating with the Selectboard and the town road crew to identify ash trees most likely to become hazards to roads and town property. These trees will be targeted for monitoring and early removal if necessary.
In July 2019 a group of volunteers from Guilford and surrounding towns were trained by Elise Shadler of the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program to learn how to use a special GPS program to identify and record the locations of ash trees along all town roads and properties.
We learned how to measure the trees and record information about their condition. If you saw someone walking your road with a tape measure and an iPad in hand last summer and fall, you were probably looking at a volunteer.
The ash tree inventory was roughly half finished by October, 2019. We identified over 1700 ash trees, with 275 noted for priority removal. Guilford Conservation Commission members (and others willing to be trained) hope to finish the inventory in the spring when the ash trees leaf out again.
The identification effort includes only the ash trees located on town roads and town properties. Individual homeowners will need to identify and monitor their own ash trees.
Emerald Ash Borer Resources
For a homeowner’s guide to ash trees and the emerald ash borer, see this guide from Vermont Community Forestry.
To learn to identify ash trees, see this resource from Michigan State University.