COLUMBUS – A $1 million grant from the U. S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service will help the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ efforts to stop the emerald ash borer from spreading across Ohio.
“This invasive exotic pest poses the most significant threat to Ohio’s forests in decades,” said John Dorka, chief of the state Division of Forestry.
“If it is not stopped now in northern Ohio, it may sweep across our state and through the rest of the Eastern United States, causing billions of dollars in damage,” he added.
Since being discovered in southeastern Michigan in June 2002, the emerald ash borer has killed as many as 15 million ash trees and has since been found in more than a dozen isolated locations in northwest Ohio.
Ash trees make up about one in 10 trees in Ohio’s forests.
New foresters, new uses. The grant will allow the Division of Forestry to hire four foresters dedicated to assisting with emerald ash borer programs.
A portion of the funds will be used to focus on the utilization of the tremendous amount of ash wood being harvested.
Established markets that use wood and wood fiber as a raw material in the production of everything from animal bedding to baseball bats will be targeted as potential partners in an effort to use the material for its highest value use.
Efforts will also include exploring use of the green energy source for local municipal and school boilers.
Removing ash trees. The Division of Forestry will also use the grant money to implement the Ohio Community Ash Reduction Initiative, targeting a significant reduction in the number of ash trees growing in high priority emerald ash borer management areas.
Using these funds, the Division of Forestry will provide economic incentive for community residents to preemptively remove potential brood trees.
This is a voluntary initiative targeting high-risk communities.
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