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Mobilizing to Fight the Emerald Ash Borer: Research Update

SSI’s emerald ash borer team and their partners are creating a safety net to help protect Maine’s ash trees from the destructive insect, which was reported in Connecticut and western Massachusetts this summer. Led by Darren Ranco, UMaine associate professor of anthropology and Chair of Native American Programs, they have made recent progress in several areas including:

  • New guidelines for emergency response plans. This spring, the team established guidelines to help tribal and state agencies develop coordinated emergency response plans, which outline steps for fighting a borer invasion, from monitoring and control to communication and quarantines. These plans are the first in the U.S. to be developed in collaboration with tribes before the borer arrives.
  • Memoranda of understanding. Following meetings in the spring and fall of 2012, the SSI team is bringing together tribes, regulators and other partners to draft memoranda of understanding between each Maine tribe and state and federal agencies responsible for controlling forest pests. These memoranda, which the team and their partners aim to have in place by 2013, will establish clear channels of communication and specify how all parties will respond should the EAB be found on or near tribal land.
  • Mapping stands of basket-quality trees. Team members Bill Livingston, UMaine associate professor of forest resources, and graduate student Kara Lorion confirmed stands of brown ash trees (also called black ash) in 10 Maine townships in summer, 2012. The researchers report an emerging pattern suggesting that better drained sites often support greater quantities of basket-quality trees. While these findings are preliminary, the data will help increase knowledge of brown ash ecology in Maine and provide the foundation for developing a statewide map of potential brown ash habitat.

Over the next year, the team will continue mapping work, interviews and data collection on stakeholder engagement, and efforts to educate and train Native youth in collecting and saving brown ash seed. Findings will contribute to a more effective and coordinated response should the borer reach Maine and provide a model for ways to bring together diverse interests to fight invasive species.

Emerald Ash Borer Research Summary

Supported by National Science Foundation award EPS-0904155 to Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine.