By Lisa Cornwell
CINCINNATI: Thousands of trees will be removed from a southwestern Ohio wildlife area in a joint federal and state effort to protect a neighboring state park from the spread of a tree-killing beetle.
About 7,200 trees in the wildlife area near East Fork State Park are expected to be removed, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state agriculture officials. Trees in the park, about 20 miles east of Cincinnati, are considered to be at high risk for infestation by the Asian longhorned beetle, and the trees to be destroyed are within a quarter-mile of infested trees.
“The Asian longhorned beetle is a very dangerous pest, and we must continue to act decisively to keep it from spreading to other parts of Ohio,” David Daniels, director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture has said.
The bullet-shaped, white-spotted black beetles tunnel into trees in the larval stage, eventually cutting off water and nutrients. They’re especially attracted to maple trees, but 12 other types can be hosts for the bugs, creating a serious threat to forests and the timber industry
Nearly 19,000 infested or high-risk trees in southwest Ohio have been removed since the beetles were discovered in Clermont County about two years ago.
For now, no trees are being removed from the park itself. But the Bethel ALB Citizens Cooperative is opposed to the removal of healthy high-risk trees.
“We want the same chemical treatment for healthy trees that is done in other states with beetle infestations,” group founder Bill Skvarla said.
He says the number of trees that officials say they have removed doesn’t include collateral trees that are lost in the process.
Federal officials say the first U.S. infestation was discovered in 1996 in New York City, and infestations in other parts of the country have resulted in the removal of tens of thousands of trees.