DEP AND DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE PARTNER TO
EDUCATE PUBLIC ABOUT TREE-KILLING PESTS
Unveil Interactive Forest Pest Exhibit at Jackson Center
(11/P96) TRENTON - Visitors to the State's Forest Resource Education Center (FREC) in Jackson Township can learn about five insects that kill trees and what to do if they see these pests through a new, interactive exhibit, part of the Center's interpretive trail.
The joint project between the Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection was funded by a $10,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.
"Now is the peak time for the emergence of some pests that are deadly to trees," said Carl Schulze, Department of Agriculture Plant Industry Division Director. "The exhibit will assist us in our efforts to make people aware of the invasive pests threatening New Jersey's forests. Public interest is our greatest resource in combating invasive pests since most discoveries of these insects are made by private citizens."
The multi-sensory board tells about the Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer, Sirex woodwasp, southern pine beetle and gypsy moth. Visitors simply push a button to hear a two or three minute message with a brief history of the bug and what to look for. The bugs are pictured on the board and a short synopsis is posted next to the picture. Information on who to contact if there is a sighting is included.
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Forest Service designed and built the display in a "green" manner, using wood harvested and cut at the FREC and using solar energy to power the board.
"This kiosk features pests that currently damage or kill New Jersey trees, as well as pests yet to be found in our state," said State Forester Lynn Fleming. "Visitors who learn the signs and symptoms will be able to identify and report infestations, which alerts foresters to the problem and they initiate suppression action."
The FREC, a 900-acre property, provides free environmental education programs to groups of all ages, teaching forest stewardship. The facility includes an interpretive center, featuring exhibits on forest succession, wildlife, tree seeds, forestry tools, forest fire and pruning. There also is a tree nursery that grows 400,000 seedlings yearly for reforestation across New Jersey.
The Department of Agriculture (NJDA) has been battling an infestation by the Asian longhorned beetle since 2002 when the wood-boring pest was discovered in Jersey City. The beetle was declared eradicated in 2008 after a five-year federal/state operation. Asian longhorned beetle was again found in Middlesex and Union counties in 2004 involving. An eradication effort continues in that region. No new infested trees have been discovered in New Jersey since April of 2006.
Emerald ash borer (EAB), a small emerald green insect native to Asia, was discovered in July 2002 feeding on ash trees in southeastern Michigan. Since then, it has afflicted more than 100,000 square miles of damage to ash trees in 12 states, as well as Canada, including New Jersey's bordering states. A survey is currently being conducted to see if EAB has spread into the Garden State.
Gypsy moth caterpillars, which reach about 2 inches long when full grown and have pairs of blue and red spots on their backs, emerge in May and early June. The gypsy moth population reached its peak in New Jersey in 2008 with 339,240 acres defoliated before the population began to decrease in 2009 through a combination of regular life cycle drop-off, beneficial fungus activity and natural predator increases in combination with the Department's aggressive spray program. While gypsy moth populations were down this year, damaging only about 1,300 acres of trees, the state must continually monitor the situation to avoid outbreaks that kill large numbers of trees through repeated defoliation.
Sirex woodwasp is a threat to pine trees. This large, dark insect is native to Eurasia and North Africa and can be up to 1.5 inches in length. Identified in New York State in 2006, it has since affected many other states including Michigan, Ohio and Vermont. If the pest continues to spread, it could eventually cause billions of dollars of damage to United States forest life.
Southern pine beetle is a native insect that killed 14,000 acres of pine trees in New Jersey last year. This 1/8-inch long, dark, reddish-brown insect has been a destructive pests in the southern U.S. for more than 30 years. Some 70 percent of outbreaks have taken place on private lands. Infestations are marked by a sudden onset of yellowish needles that quickly turn brown.
The State Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Parks and Forestry, oversees more than 430,000 acres of land that receive over 18 million visitors annually. About 42 percent, or 2.1 million acres, of New Jersey is forested, which includes state and private lands that serve as environmental resources.
Trees exist for many important environmental reasons including filtering air pollution chemicals and dangerous small dust particles from the air, reducing water runoff, flooding, erosion and storm water management costs, and helping recharge groundwater and keep sediment and pollutants from streams. They offer summer shade and protection from winter winds and snow, which increases comfort and cuts winter heating and summer cooling costs by at least 20 percent.
New infestations of invasive pests are known to occur due to movement of wood and wood products. People can accidentally spread the pests by bringing firewood along with them. A pledge against moving firewood can be taken at www.dontmovefirewood.org.
To learn more about invasive pests threatening New Jersey's trees, visit www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/forest/community/Pests_and_Diseases.htm or www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/pi/prog/asianlonghornbeetle.html.