Save the Ash Tree

By Charlie Nardozzi

There is a growing concern about native ash trees across the country. The emerald ash borer (EAB) insect has set up home in communities in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and Eastern Canada regions, killing tens of millions of ash trees and threatening to spread to other areas. This exotic pest has no known enemies and can kill an ash tree within a few years. While researchers scramble to come up with strategies to control this pest, scientists at the USDA's Rose Lake Plant Materials Center in Michigan have started a National Ash Tree Seed Collection Initiative. Their goal is to collect a diverse sampling from a wide variety of ash trees nationwide and use them to preserve the germplasm for future reintroductions of ash trees in case the tree goes the way of the American chestnut. The Rose Lake Center staff are enlisting volunteers to help collect seed from around the country. The seed is sorted, classified, and x-rayed to determine viability. Viable seed is them stored at the Genetic Preservation Facility in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

For more information on how you can get involved, go to: Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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