HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania's ongoing efforts to control destructive forest pests and invasive vegetation in state forests and parks received an infusion of needed funds – and a strong vote of confidence -- through the recent approval of more than $350,000 in federal grants, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced today.
Five USDA Forest Service grants totaling $353,500 are earmarked for DCNR's bureaus of forestry and state parks for tracking and control of the emerald ash borer, hemlock woolly adelgid and Asian longhorned beetle, as well as the suppression of invasive plants and restoration of native species.
"This invaluable financial support also is a real testament to the effectiveness of programs planned and already in place to protect the health of our state forests and state parklands," said Bureau of Forestry Director Daniel Devlin. "All of these grants were competitive, meaning other states also were vying for funding."
The largest federal grant, $125,000, will enable the Bureau of Forestry's Forest Pest Management section to implement and demonstrate various management techniques for controlling the emerald ash borer, a non-native invasive forest pest killing all species of ash that has been detected in 16 Pennsylvania counties.
Lesser funding amounts are earmarked for the tracking and suppression of the hemlock woolly adelgid, another non-native invasive forest pest proving deadly to Pennsylvania's State Tree, the Eastern hemlock. Also, transfer of firewood -- directly linked to the spread of the Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer -- will be monitored closely in state campgrounds as well as visual surveys under a newly funded plan.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania's state parks and forests, some sections of which are overrun with barberry, purple loosestrife, common reed (Phragmites) and other invasive vegetation, will be targeted with new suppression efforts, as well as plantings of native species.
"Most state forest and park visitors understand the threats posed by wildfires or gypsy moths to the woodlands they know and love, but they may not immediately recognize other pressing concerns," noted Devlin. "These federal grants will aid our work to protect our large stands of ash in the north against the emerald ash borer, address the hemlock woolly adelgid's spread to the west and suppress invasive vegetation across the state."
Plant species targeted on state park and forestlands include: mile-a-minute weed, Japanese stilt grass, barberry, tree of heaven (Ailanthus), invasive honeysuckles, autumn olive, phragmites, Japanese knotweed, purple loosestrife and reed canary grass. Funds for these projects will be used to purchase supplies as well as native species -- grasses, shrubs and trees -- to restore areas that have been treated.
State parks targeted for future invasive species suppression projects could include: Bald Eagle, Centre County; Sinnemahoning, Cameron County; Reeds Gap, Mifflin County; Kettle Creek, Clinton County; Milton, Union County; Ohiopyle, Fayette County; Keystone, Westmoreland County; Kings Gap, Cumberland County; Gifford Pinchot, York County; Canoe Creek, Blair County; Tyler and Neshaminy, Bucks County; French Creek, Berks County; Marsh Creek, Chester County; and Hickory Run, Luzerne County.
Grants awarded and projects planned or already under way include:
- $125,000 to the Bureau of Forestry's Forest Pest Management Division for creation of several emerald ash borer management and biological control sites across the state, including Latodami Environmental Education Center, North Park, and Deer Lakes Park, both in Allegheny County, and Erie Bluffs State Park, Erie County. Detection surveys and public education also will be conducted on public lands and communities in 35 high-risk counties not being surveyed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
- "We'll also be moving to protect the Bureau of Forestry's ash seed orchards in Clearfield, Centre and Huntingdon counties, and exploring the feasibility of using the beetle-hunting wasp Cerceris fumipennis to detect presence of emerald ash borer on state-owned forest land, and studying the results," said Dr. Donald A. Eggen, the bureau's forest health manager.
- $110,000 to the Forest Pest Management Division for insecticide treatment of high-value Eastern hemlocks in more than 2,600 acres of state forest and state parkland.
"A hemlock's health, accessibility and many other factors determine whether chemical treatment is a viable option," noted Eggen. "Chemical treatments are conducted on an individual tree basis and reserved for trees distinguished by their high recreational or scenic value."
Already, hemlock trees have received insecticide treatment at the following state parks: R.B. Winter, Union County; Ravensburg, Clinton County; Worlds End, Sullivan County; Colonel Denning, Cumberland County; Fowlers Hollow, Perry County; Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center, Northampton County; Trough Creek, Huntingdon County; Little Buffalo, Perry County; Ohiopyle, and Reeds Gap.
- $88,500 to the Bureau of State Parks Resources Management and Planning Division for invasive plant suppression and native plant restoration at 50 state park and state forest sites. The effort will utilize DCNR's Conservation Volunteer Program, while better educating land management staff on the identification and treatment of invasive plants. Also, the project will conduct field training involving researchers, special program staff and land managers.
"Native plant communities support co-evolved native fauna, protect watersheds, and foster a sense of place, all of which are embodiments of those very special areas we call state parks and state forests," Eggen said. "Failure to manage invasive plant species results in the degradation of the recreational, scenic and ecological values of these areas."
- $20,000 to the Forest Pest Management Division to target the spread of the Asian longhorned beetle through firewood transfers. Relying on postal Zip Codes to chart known infestation areas with primary residences of likely visitors -- sportsmen, vacationers and second-home owners -- the bureau hope to ramp up selective education and outreach efforts stressing need to burn firewood where it was obtained.
- $10,000 to the Forest Pest Management Division, enabling it to join West Virginia and Ohio foresters in tracking the hemlock woolly adelgid's leading edge of the infestation. To date, the hemlock woolly adelgid has infested about one-half of the native range of hemlock in the eastern United States, and is found in 19 states from New Hampshire to northeastern Georgia and western Ohio.
"We recognize intensive ground surveys for early detection of hemlock woolly adelgid is the key to being pro-active instead of reactive when managing hemlock health," Eggen said.
For more information on forest insect pest management, invasive vegetation and native plant species, visit http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us.
Media contact: Terry Brady, 717-772-9101
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources