As the Emerald Ash Borer closes in on Central New York, people are continuing to educate themselves and prepare their ash trees for the worst.
The Friends of Camillus Park met on Thursday night to get some insight on how the Emerald Ash Borer, an insect that kills ash trees, would impact their park, a prized possession in their community.
"It's a jewel," Joseph Flynn, a member for Friends of Camillus Park, says. "It's a beautiful park, and to think of the fact that it could be eliminated...denuded...by this Emerald Ash Borer, is frightening, so that's what's really driving us."
At the meeting, the group brought in Jessi Lyons, the facilitator of the county-wide Emerald Ash Borer Task Force, to bring them some insight about the insect, and what it could do to their park in general. Lyons gave the group a crash course on the insect, and many in the group did not know that it is illegal to transport firewood more than 50 miles (which is mainly how the Emerald Ash Borer is traveling so fast).
"I filled them in on things they need to be aware when the Ash Borer gets here, so they can be looking for it, so they can detect it, and report it if they find it," Lyons says. "And when it does arrive, tell them what to do with their ash trees."
Lyons says the Ash Borer is attracted to unhealthy trees, which people in the region need to look for. At the same time, to prevent a tree from being infected, Lyons says the trees can be treated, or cut down if extremely unhealthy. The Ash Borer poses a risk to not only trees, but people themselves, which is why people like the Friends of Camillus Park are meeting to figure out how to keep people safe.
"They can break easily once they're dead," Lyons says. "They come off in very large chunks, so that's why this is an especially large problem as far as what to do to figure out with the ash trees once they become infested, because they become such a hazard."
The Friends of Camillus Park want to be proactive in stopping the insect, which is why they spoke at length on Thursday night about becoming Wasp Watchers. The Cerceris fumipennis wasp does not sting humans, but is one of the few animals that preys on the Emerald Ash Borer. A strong wasp population of this type could curb some of the Emerald Ash Borer's affect here, which is why the group wants to use a piece of their park to promote an environment for wasp nests.
New York State has the highest density of ash trees in the nation, which means it is prime ground for the Emerald Ash Borer to spread. 13 percent of Onondaga County's trees are ash, which means the Ash Borer could make a significant impact on the Central New York environment. As for its arrival, Lyons says it is difficult to predict when the Ash Borer gets to Onondaga County, but that it will take at least two years before we see the insect's devastating affects.