Community Planning: Invasive Tree Pests

Invasive tree pests, such as the emerald ash borer (EAB), pose serious challenges to Vermont’s communities. By planning ahead and preparing, your community can minimize the impact of invasive tree pests and reduce the risk of spreading them. Forest pest preparedness and response is ultimately the responsibility of municipal governments, businesses, and private landowners. Federal and state staff are available for technical assistance and early detection.

All Vermont communities are encouraged to plan for EAB.  EAB has killed millions of ash trees from MI to NY.  When EAB arrives, Vermont will have to deal with a large number of hazardous trees, loss of tree canopy, and budgetary demands within a short timeframe. 

For example, it will cost the town of Hartford, Vermont an estimated $105,000 to remove and replace their village ash trees and $329,500 to remove large roadside ash.  These trees provide residents roughly $241,171 annually in environmental benefits.  These costs, however, can be minimized by developing a forest pest preparedness plan for your community.

Start Planning Now:

1.  Educate yourself about invasive forest pests.

Visit VTinvasives.org Gallery of Invaders

2.  Learn about developing a Forest Pest Preparedness Plan.

When tree pests such as EAB arrive in Vermont, a preparedness plan will guide your community's response.  Remember- what you do now to prepare will strongly impact what you’ll be dealing with down the road. 

Resources:

Vermont Forest Pest Preparedness: Planning Overview

Vermont Forest Pest Planning Frequently Asked Questions

Webinar: Planning for EAB: Stories from around the State

Webinar: The Emerald Ash Borer is Coming: Workshop for Municipalities, Road Crews, Utilities, and Forest Professionals

3.  Form a local Forest Pest Planning and Response Team.

Team members will help implement and guide the plan as well as keep abreast of, coordinate, and communicate information to residents.

4.  Brief decision-makers.

Meet with your community’s leaders and bring them up to speed on the issue. Staff can provide technical support with the latest information and strategy. 

Resources:

Vermont Forest Pest Planning: Is your community prepared?

What will happen if Emerald Ash Borer is found in my community? Quick facts for town officials.

5.  Develop a timeline and determine who is responsible for writing the plan.

 

6.  Assess your community's level of preparedness and prioritize action steps.

Work through the Vermont Forest Pest Preparedness: Planning Worksheet (word doc or PDF) to help your community identify the policies, protocols, resources (equipment, labor and funding) and other actions needed to efficiently and effectively respond to a pest infestation.

7.  Formalize the plan and have it officially adopted by the Selectboard, Conservation Commission, and/or other appropriate town committees.

Vermont Forest Pest Preparedness Plans:

Bakersfield (population 1,200)

Enosburgh (population 2,800)

Fairfax (population 3,800)

Hartford (population 10,400)

Hyde Park (population 493)

Johnson (population 3,300)

Middlebury (population 8,496)

Randolph (population 4,853)

Richford (population 1,400)

Rutland (population 17,300)

South Burlington (population 18,400)

Williston (population 8,698)

8.  Implement your preparedness plan.

 

 

Planning Resources:

The Community Resource Toolbox is designed to assist municipalities in developing a Forest Pest Preparedness and Response Plan.

Open the toolbox "drawers" below for tools to help your community prepare.

For more information, contact Meredith Whitney at Meredith.Whitney@uvm.edu or (802) 656-7746.

Toolbox

Forest pest preparedness and response is ultimately the responsibility of municipal governments, businesses and private landowners. Federal and state staff are available for technical assistance and early detection.

Review the State of Vermont Invasive Forest Pest Action Plan to learn about:

  • Organizational roles
  • Prioritized actions
  • Statutory authorities
  • Potential stakeholders
  • Funding sources
  • Outline of incident command structure
  • Framework for documenting pest-specific information for Vermont state agencies, responsible federal agencies, and partner institutions when an invasive forest pest is detected in Vermont.

One of the most important steps in preparing for a tree pest infestation is to conduct a community tree inventory to determine the potential risk to your community’s urban forest resource.

Inventories can be completed relatively quickly or be very detailed depending on the needs and capacity of your community. 

Go to the Ash Tree Inventory page to learn more.

Does your town have the legal authority to carry out the management strategies you select or deal with potential threats? At the very least, dead and dying trees will pose a public safety hazard, so your community will need the authority to declare infested or dead trees a public nuisance and have that nuisance abated.

For example, an important action step for Johnson, Vermont's EAB Management Plan was to determine that: "The Town Tree Warden may remove or cause to be removed any Public Tree or part thereof which is infested with or infected by a recognized Plant Pest or when it constitutes a hazard to public safety. Pursuant to 24 VSA §2509, no public hearing shall be required when a public Shade Tree is infested, infected or when it is a hazard to public safety.  Such tree shall be considered a Hazardous Tree".

Go to the Public Policy page to learn more and see examples of tree ordinances and policies for Vermont towns.

There is an array of management options for the emerald ash borer that your town can implement together to meet the needs of your urban forest and budget. 

Options include:

  • Preemptive removal of ash trees
  • Treating selected trees with insecticide
  • Removing infested or dead trees as they occur
  • Replanting with a diverse range of species
  • Public education

Go to VTinvasives.org EAB Management page to learn more.

When tree pests, such as EAB, arrive in Vermont there will be limitations (imposed through state and federal quarantines) on where and how wood can be moved.  Firewood and green lumber can be used within a quarantine area but will need a compliance agreement if they are to be moved and sold outside of quarantine areas.  Read more about quarantines.

There will be an ever greater need for local markets to utilize ash wood infested with EAB.  Beyond lumber and firewood, ash is used in a number of products including furniture, musical instruments, sports equipment, bowls, toys, tool handles and boat building.  By finding creative ways to develop value-added products from the wood generated from ash tree removals, communities can often lessen the economic impact of the EAB damage while strengthening local wood product industries.

Developing a plan for utilizing EAB-related tree removals is recommended. Go to the Wood Utilization page to learn more.

Early detection is critical to slowing pest spread and limiting their impact.  The timing of certain management actions is optimal when the pests are within 5-10 miles.  The only way to know this is to monitor host trees.  Monitoring is not incumbent on the town.  The state and federal government are doing their own monitoring but there’s a lot that volunteers can do as well!  In fact, new infestations are most often found by informed citizens.  The method and ideal locations to monitor depend on the pest.

Go to VTinvasives.org Tree Pest Monitoring page to learn more.

Recovery starts now!

Develop a plan to increase species diversity so your community’s urban forest can become more resilient to future pest attacks.  Plant in vacant spaces now before EAB, ALB or HWA comes to town.  This will give your community a head start on tree replacement, give those new trees a chance to grow, and spread the age of your urban forest. 

As you develop your recovery plan, keep the following goals in mind:

Plan to diversify

The new diversity rule of thumb is to strive for no more than 5% of one species (i.e. sugar maple), 10% of one genus (i.e. maple) and 20% of one family (i.e. the maple family).  Avoid planting tree genera and species that are already over-represented, and encourage your residents to do the same.

For ideas on replacement species see the Vermont Tree Selection Guide.

Plant for Success:

Visit the Tree Planting pages to learn how.

Protect your investment

Visit the Tree Care pages to learn how.

Communication is vital to the effective management of a complicated issue like handling an emerald ash borer infestation.  Good communication can enhance your organization’s credibility and foster public support for your EAB program. 

Your community’s residents and leaders can be part of the solution such as in early detection, creating cooperative agreements, or supporting budget requests, but they can also be part of the problem – bringing in or moving infested firewood, opposing best management tactics or cutting budgets.

Engage them now to assure you have enough support to succeed and that they have enough information to make informed consumer decisions on their own property.

Visit VTinvasives for more information about effective public outreach.

PLANT. LIVE. GROW.