The Emerald Ash Borer/Ash Tree Inventory project by the Boone County Illinois Master Gardeners was awarded first place in the Innovative Projects Category at the International Master Gardener conference. Barbara Wych, chairperson for this project tells us about this award winning effort:
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) First Found in Michigan
In the summer of 2002, a ½” long bright metallic beetle native to areas of Asia, was first discovered in the United States near Detroit, Michigan. This insect is the Emerald Ash Borer and as its name implies, it only uses ash trees during its life cycle. Tree damage occurs as the larvae or borer feeds on the inner bark, effectively disrupting the movement of water and nutrients and ultimately killing the tree. If the Emerald Ash Borer is not contained and eradicated the impact of this borer on ash trees in North America will be similar to that of chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease.
EAB discovered in Illinois in 2006
Four years later, in 2006, the insect was discovered in Illinois. Since Boone County is near this Illinois site, in 2009, the Boone County Master Gardeners took the opportunity to be proactive in the community. We formed a partnership with the city and county governments, Illinois Department of Ag., the parks and conservation districts, Extension educators and staff.
Ash tree inventory helps community understand EAB impacts, make informed decisions
As part of the partnership, the Boone County Master Gardeners conducted an ash tree inventory by recording the GPS coordinates, measuring tree diameters and assessing the health of all ash trees on all county, township and city right of ways. This information was entered into the county’s Geographic Information System (GIS) which plotted color coded locations of all the ash trees; green for healthy, yellow for declining and red for dead. The Emerald Ash Borer/ Ash Tree Inventory project was conducted with two goals that were successfully met; to
1) provide the county with accurate ash tree impact data for resource planning and budgeting, and
2) to educate the community on Emerald Ash Borer facts to enable them to make informed decisions.
County Ash Tree Inventory saves $10,000
In the process, the Master Gardeners inventoried nearly 3200 ash trees with almost 500 volunteer hours. The inventory process was a cost savings of over $10,000 to the county but beyond that showed the value of Master Gardeners as a significant part of the community.
For more information about the University of Illinois Boone County Master Gardeners, visit: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/bdo/boonemg/
Written by Barbara Wych, University of Illinois Extension Boone County Master Gardener
Posted by Monica David, IMGC Vice-President