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Northern Forests May Not Host Many Ash Trees, But the EAB Spread Is Still Bad News


The first finding of the emerald ash borer in Northcentral Wisconsin may not have as big an impact on the landscape as you might think.  Still, forest managers say it’s a blow for forest health. 

The invasive beetle was found for the first time in Oneida County this week, at a middle school in Rhinelander.  No other neighboring counties have the ash borer.

But the finding may not be as devastating for northern forests as it has been for other parts of the state. 

Linda Williams, Forest Health Specialist for the DNR, says northern hardwood forests do contain ash, but it isn’t the dominant species. 

“So when emerald ash borer comes into some of these stands, where ash is a small, small component – there will be some trees that die, the ash trees will be killed. But the rest of the trees will be fine. So it will actually have a minimal impact on many of the stands in the Northwoods.”

Last year, the DNR harvested and sold 450 tons of ash from the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest.   That’s just 2 tenths of a percent of the forest’s total sales volume. 

But Steve Peterson, Forest Superintendent, says the spread of the ash borer to this region is still bad news. 

“Emerald ash borer isn’t going to have a huge impact on the forest I manage. But the fact that people have moved pests around, and there are other pests out there that I don’t want to get – that put’s our forest at a risk.”

He says the Oneida County finding highlights the role that individuals can play in spreading invasive species. 

Peterson says ash trees are more common in residential areas, and will be missed on certain well-known recreational areas like Minocqua’s Bearskin Trail.  

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