ALBANY -- August has been proclaimed Forest Pest Awareness Month in New York State.
Working with their northeast neighboring states, officials in New York are taking the opportunity to educate citizens about the risks associated with forest pests and pathogens, and the actions they can take to help safeguard New York's valuable and abundant forests.
Throughout August, Agriculture and Markets officials will be providing training for children and citizen groups to share information detection and identification, as well as reporting procedures for forest pests. Information will be focused on the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorned beetle, the state's two highest profile and most serious forest pest threats that have a confirmed presence in New York State.
Volunteers will also have the opportunity to assist state horticultural inspectors in actual field surveys, which will be done in four high risk areas, Massena, Newburgh, Watkins Glen and Buffalo. Those areas will also host billboards, titled "Today's Menu: Our Forests," reminding travelers to report sightings of EAB and ALB.
To help protect forest health in New York State, citizens can become informed about how to identify and report unusual bugs at www.beetlebusters.com and www.stopthebeetle.info. They should also only use firewood from local sources when camping or recreating outdoors, and never move firewood from dying trees.
EAB kills ash trees which are used for shade as street trees and provides wood for implement handles and baseball bats. ALB kills maple trees which are New York's official state tree and the most abundant species in the state. Maples are used for a wide variety of wood products as well as the production of maple syrup.
In addition to ALB and EAB, the state is also concerned with and keeps a watchful eye out for other invasive species such as oak wilt, chestnut blight, beech bark disease, and hemlock woolly adelgid. Trees infested with an invasive species, such as those listed, are usually weakened to the point where they die or need to be taken down, and are also no longer usable for harvested forest products. Trees and forestland aid in the filtration of New York's clean drinking water, support the protection of New York's plants and animals, and underwrite the economy of many communities through recreation, tourism, forestry, and numerous other uses.
New York State's forests cover 18.6 million acres or 62 percent of the State's 30 million total acres. Many of the State's forests are privately owned and managed for wood products or pulp. According to Cornell University, the forest industry employs more than 60,000 people and directly contributes $4.6 billion to the State's economy each year.