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Town to Battle a Stubborn Pest

A little green bug could cause a lot of damage in town.

Town to Battle a Stubborn Pest
The emerald ash borer may sound harmless, but it's a plague on New England trees.

This insect has been found in North Andover, and the Mass DCR Forest Health wants to help fight it.

The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Monday night to allow Mass DCR Forest Health to treat trees on town property impacted by the emerald ash borer.

Affected town properties include Osgood woods, Mazurenko Farm Conservation Area and Town Farm Conservation Area.

Native to China, the emerald ash borer eats ash trees, which are very common in New England.

So how did the bug make it to North Andover?

"More than likely somebody brought firewood or moved firewood," Mass DCR Forest Health Program Director Kenneth Gooch said. "This insect is primarily being spread by people moving firewood."

The insects make it to America in wood packaging shipped from Asia, Gooch added.

"We do the majority of our trade right now from southeast Asia, so we're bringing in their insects and diseases," Gooch said.

Federal guidelines call for wooden packages to be treated for insects, but a very small percentage of packages entering the United States are actually inspected.

And unlike the Gypsy moth, the emerald ash borer is here to stay, as it's so difficult to keep them contained or eradicate them.

"The insect is here, we're gonna have to learn to live with it," Gooch said. Roughly 1-to-2 percent of trees in eastern Massachusetts are ash trees. That number spikes when you head into western Massachusetts.

"Please do not take your firewood up north or anywhere else," Selectman Rosemary Smedile said to the audience. Maine actually issues fines to people who bring firewood into that state.

The treatment will include dropping trees in the affected areas and peeling the bark off the logs, so the extent of the infestation and proper further treatment can be determined.

"Unfortunately it's in your community, and we're just asking permission to work with you," Gooch said.

There will be a public informational meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Stevens Memorial Library.

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