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Blight of the Emerald Ash Borer

In the Northern Appalachian forest region area of the United States lies our sales office in Union City, PA— just 40 miles North of our lumber yard in Franklin, PA.

A once beautiful and grand Ash tree anchors our sales office. Ash is used in multiple hardwood products ranging

from furniture, millwork, electric guitars, baseball bats, staircases, flooring, and many more. Ash has been a staple species within the American Hardwood with its distinguishing grain pattern industry and often is the go-to substitute for Oak.

We are sad to say this, but the Ash tree that stood boldly right next to our sales office all these years in Union City will have to be cut down for firewood this fall. Why? Because of the devastating blight of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). The EAB is an exotic beetle that has a shiny green metallic tint that probably arrived in the United States on wood packaging material carried by cargo transportation originating from Asia. The EAB was discovered near Detroit MI in the summer of 2002 and has been aggressively ravaging our Ash trees ever since. As of October 2018, the EAB was found in 35 states, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Manitoba.

The adult EAB will bore inside Ash trees to lay eggs. Once the larvae hatch, they begin to feed on the inner bark of Ash trees, leaving squiggly looking tracks— this disrupts the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients that are essential to the Ash tree’s survival. Without the ability to transport water and nutrients, the Ash tree begins to die and decay.

In Pennsylvania alone the State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has estimated that 308 million Ash trees have been lost due to these pests. Sawmills are having a harder time getting healthy Ash logs that can be used to manufacture quality hardwood. Not too long from now people will be talking about Ash like they talk about Chestnut today— a great hardwood resource that is no longer available. There have been many efforts to stop the EBA, but they've been very successful in destroying the American Ash supply.

All protective measures to prevent the spread of EAB might have helped hinder its advancement, but was unable to get rid of this invasive beetle. Don’t be too discouraged though, there still might be light at the end of the tunnel. Chestnut trees which were eradicated by the Chestnut Blight will be reintroduced into our forests with the thanks of genetic engineering that created a Chestnut tree with the perk of being immune to the Chestnut Blight. Maybe in the not-so-distant future a similar genetic engineering breakthrough will happen for the Ash tree as well and it can one day return to our forests. In the meantime, the healthy log supply will continue to dwindle, and Ash will eventually be phased out of real American hardwood consumer products.


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