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Pain in Our Ash
07/10/2003

When I was in Windsor back in December, by father told me about the emerald ash borer. The insect had hopped the border from Michigan and was threatening to kill all the ash trees in the county.

This summer, visiting home, the ash tree in our backyard was still alive. However, it is showing signs of being on its last year. The leaves are greatly diminished and the characteristic back-tracking trails of the borer are visible.

According to Seasons magazine, the emerald ash borer came to North America in wood packaging materials from eastern Asia. It is a threat to red, green and white ash. Its eggs hatch in the spring and early summer, and then have a feast underneath the bark. This cuts off the tree's ability to feed itself.

Wood from the Windsor area is quaranteened in an effort to keep the ash borer from spreading to the rest of Canada.

Today I read in the Globe and Mail that the federal government has not made a decision about a more-serious containment strategy because of budgetary considerations. As a result, there are approximately one billion ash trees in Ontario at risk.

Some at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency think that cutting a firebreak to isolate Essex County from the rest of the province will be an effective preventative measure. The estimated cost is about $5 million.

In any case, such a measure would not be guaranteed to work. The insect made it across the Pacific Ocean on a ship, and somehow it got across the Detroit River. Hopefully we can contain it, but it's not certain. CFIA's plan seems to be our best bet, so you may want to suggest to your MP that something be done.


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