Oregon urban forest managers gathered at Portland’s World Forestry Center on June 1 to plan for the dreaded invasion of emerald ash borer (EAB). On the march in North America since it was first identified in Michigan in 2002, the destructive wood-boring beetle has unfortunately found its way to Oregon. Galvanized by its discovery last summer in Forest Grove, Oregon Community TreesConference organizers brought together an impressive group of expert speakers and panelists for “What’s Bugging Our Trees? Coping with Emerald Ash Borer in the PNW.”
Early on, when it became clear that the rapid spread of the invasive pest could not be stopped, stewards of Oregon’s forests, both wild and urban, began preparing for the arrival of EAB. USFS grants have provided ongoing support for community tree surveys and inventories. Seeds of Fraxinus latifolia, our native ash, were collected statewide for safekeeping and research. A multi-faceted action plan, aerial surveys, and detailed information about EAB are posted on the ODF Forest Health web page. The OCT conference featured USFS and state urban forestry experts who are working closely to manage the arrival of this and other invasive insect pests and diseases. Experts from “ground zero” communities in the Midwest were invited to share their experiences gained over the past two decades of dealing with EAB.
Geoffrey Donovan, PhD, was among the featured speakers. The Portland-based USFS Research Scientist presented research on the Human Health Impacts from Canopy Changes; compelling evidence on how the sudden loss of trees from EAB in Midwest communities led to increased mortality. He also described how increasing tree canopy in Portland has yielded better health outcomes.
As usual, JFS was the only nursery to attend this important event. OCT conference sponsors since 2005, our company’s donation in support of the event included an array of species-diverse trees for greening the stage and conference room, and for giving away to 12 lucky attendees. Martin Hanni, Guy Meacham, Jim Donohoe and Nancy Buley attended on our behalf. Buley served as an invited panelist for the session, Alternatives to Ash: Resilient Options for Streets, Parks and Yards. She shared a powerpoint presentation entitled Alternatives to Ash.
Buley reminded conference attendees that experts agree that a diverse mix of Genera and tree species is the best defense against urban forest pests and diseases. For decades, JFS has been ramping up the diversity of species and cultivars offered in our broad product line of urban and landscape trees. During the past 30 years, our product line has grown from the 19 Genera and 109 species and cultivars offered in our 1982 catalog to 64 Genera and 450 species and cultivars presented in our 2023-24 catalog.
Buley concluded that we and other Oregon propagators are producing the species diversity needed to battle invasive pests. However, she advised that it is crucial for urban foresters and other specifiers and buyers to plan ahead to acquire the newer and more unusual species and cultivars. Tree planters must also be willing to pay the higher price that they command in comparison to the common, easily grown and quick-to-produce varieties. They are generally rare for good reasons – harder to propagate and grow profitably, and slow to reach landscape-ready sizes.
The conference was recorded and will soon be made available to attendees. We’ll pass along the link when we receive it. The conference was incredibly informative. We thank the hardworking volunteer OCT board, ODA, USFS, Portland Urban Forestry and other presenting sponsors, and the excellent speakers for making it happen!
Emerald ash borer resources – OSU Extension Service