The Emerald Ash Borer has arrived in Wisconsin and with it the threat that the entire population of ash trees in the state will die off. Many precautions are in place to try to stop the spread of this invasive insect, but in the event that the ash borer cannot be contained, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Rose Lake Plant Materials Center is taking steps to see that the ash tree doesn't vanish forever.
Through the National Ash Tree Seed Collection Initiative, seed from across the Great Lakes region and the nation is being collected and stored at the National Center for Genetic Resource Preservation in Fort Collins, Colo. The goal is to secure seed over the next few years that may allow future generations to enjoy ash trees, if the ash borer invasion is controlled. Seeds that are collected are visually inspected and x-rayed to select sound seed for storage. If the ash tree populations are completely decimated by the ash borer, the stored seeds can be used as the genetic base to re-establish ash trees for future forests.
NRCS is seeking volunteers to collect ash seed. All ash (Fraxinus) ash species are under attack, but the four main species in the Great Lakes Region are: Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra Marsh.), Blue Ash (Fraxinus quadrangulata), Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica Marsh.), and White Ash (Fraxinus Americana) . It is essential that the exact location, date and type of ash tree where the seed is collected is recorded on the forms available from NRCS.
Emerald ash borer has so far been found in Ozaukee and Washington counties in southeastern Wisconsin. A quarantine to help stop the spread of products that may contain EAB has been put in place in those counties. The quarantine also includes Fond du Lac and Sheboygan counties. Limiting the movement of products, especially hardwood firewood that may contain EAB larvae is one of the most effective ways of reducing the impact of this invasive pest.
Complete information on how to identity and collect ash seed, as well as the forms and instructions, are available from the USDA Rose Lake Plant Materials Center at www.ashseed.org.