Letter: Ash remains an important species
A letter in the April 29 Monitor from Phil Wallingford (“More to the ash tree story”) regarding the discovery of a destructive insect, the emerald ash borer, seems to miss the point. Yes, his local forestry expert is right to some degree; white ash in the Northeast have been declining over the past decade or two, and there are numerous possible reasons. But having worked all over New England and New York, I can testify that there are still lots of healthy white ash, here and elsewhere.
If the emerald ash borer takes off here as it has in the Upper Midwest, it could be devastating. At the Black Fly Breakfast, a joint meeting of foresters and logging contractors held at Pats Peak recently, one expert was quoted as saying that in southeast Michigan, in some forested areas, it has caused 100 percent mortality. White ash is not so common in southern New Hampshire, but elsewhere in New England it is oftentimes the third or fourth most common species in hardwood stands. If this insect gains a foothold, it could be yet another significant loss of diversity in our forests. Remember the American Chestnut?
Wallingford’s expert may have written off ash as a commercial timber species for a while, but I can assure him and everyone else that ash is a highly desirable species for sawing into boards with its straight grain and smooth finish. Ash is a valuable timber species wherever it’s found throughout its range. Plus, who doesn’t like to split a nice piece of white ash for firewood?
Please don’t discount the potential affects of this insect; it presently is considered one of the most destructive insects in our hardwood forests. Hey Phil, you ever play baseball?
(The writer is a licensed professional forester.)