Restoring Canopy in Ohio’s Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Zone

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
In June 2011, the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) was discovered in Clermont County, Ohio by an Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) service forester responding to a landowner inquiry. Since that discovery, the ODNR Division of Forestry has worked closely with the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to restore canopy lost from eradication efforts, survey high-risk sites throughout Ohio and educate the public about ALB identification and its potential impacts.
In the fall of 2012, the ODNR Division of Forestry piloted an approach for restoring tree canopy lost in the eradication effort in southwest Ohio communities. The program’s intent was to restore lost canopy cover in maintained residential lawns, municipal streets and parks, commercial landscapes and other areas that would not normally support natural regeneration. Recovery in areas where regeneration occurs naturally, such as woodlots, stream banks, fencerows and non-maintained areas, was covered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
The ODNR Division of Forestry also provided technical assistance for tree selection, installation, and maintenance to ensure that the trees were planted properly in locations that would not conflict with existing above- or below-ground utilities, or reduce vehicular or pedestrian mobility or visibility. Property owners chose from a list of non-host species that were selected based on their aesthetic qualities and ability to perform well in the soils of Clermont County.  Each qualifying property owner was eligible for up to 10 replacement trees for their property.

ODNR Division of Forestry staff, along with volunteers from Clermont County Parks, Clermont County Soil and Water Conservation District, ODA, USDA APHIS, Grant Career Center, Bethel Municipal staff and Davey Tree delivered and helped plant almost 300 trees on 55 properties in the pilot program. The large participation in the pilot program by affected property owners and volunteers spurred the establishment of the Tree Canopy Enhancement Program (TCEP), which provided an additional four rounds of tree distribution over the next several years. The last round of the TCEP in October 2016 distributed 372 trees to 83 properties bringing the program total to more than 1,600 trees distributed to more than 300 properties within the ALB quarantine zone.
Through U.S. Forest Service grant funding and in coordination with ODA and APHIS, the ODNR Division of Forestry also conducts surveys for ALB in areas surrounding the quarantine zone in southwest Ohio and other high-risk sites throughout the state. Areas of emphasis include private woodlands, urban and community trees, parks, campgrounds, distribution facilities, firewood dealers and recreational areas where host tree species exist. Informational packets about the signs and risks of ALB are distributed to land and business owners and staff working at the high-risk sites visited in the surveys.
Since many of the ALB infestations in the United States have been brought to officials’ attention by citizens, the importance of public outreach cannot be underestimated. The ODNR Division of Forestry conducts education and outreach at several meetings and forestry-related public events each year, as well as direct landowner visits to private woodlands in the areas impacted by ALB. Landowner visits focus on ALB identification and woodland management practices to address ALB impacts. Additionally, the division’s Urban Forestry Program hosted an ODA representative at each of the six regional urban forestry conferences to present Ohio’s ALB eradication program and further disseminate information.

As the eradication efforts continue in southwest Ohio, the ODNR Division of Forestry will continue to work with its local, state and federal partners to restore lost canopy, survey high-risk sites, and educate the public about this potentially devastating invasive insect in our midst.