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Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Future: Gene Logsdon Is Optimistic

April 2013
That’s what I keep reminding myself as I drive along Leelanau County roads this spring, my eye continually drawn to ravaged ash trees. The emerald ash borer only reached us this past year, but now it is clear that large numbers have arrived, with appetites intact. What Fall 2013 will look like without the subtle, varied, yummy colors of ash leaves? Will the species recover? Gene Logsdon, as I say, is optimistic, and while I’ve written about Logsdon and ash trees before, here is his hopeful forecast again, from A Sanctuary of Trees, for those who don’t want to follow my link backwards.
I have enough dead ashes in my woodland to supply all the firewood I will need for the rest of my life. But when foresters and landscapers tell me to kiss the white ash goodby, I lead them by the nose into my woods. Right along the path to the barn, there are two patches of ash seedlings – scores of them. I exchange greetings with them several times a day. They are my good friends. The tallest of them is about five feet now, growing slowly in the partial shade, the top sprig nipped off last winter by a deer, but none the worse for it. It is three years old and still only the diameter of my finger. Obviously it is not yet old enough to interest a borer. It will take six to eight years anyway for these seedlings to reach borer-food size, during which time the borers, running out of bigger ashes, will start to starve. I hope.
Another thing I tell myself over and over and have voiced once or twice to David, also, is that I’m glad I started noticing the fall colors of the ash trees a few years back. What if I’d not been aware of them, if their glory had vanished and I’d never known it?

October 2012
But according to Logsdon, it is not too late. If there are no tall, stately ash trees adding their fall color to October’s landscape, look carefully along the roadsides and around the edges of the woods. Look for the whippersnappers. Those little darlings! In time – we may hope, along with Logsdon – they will be tall, stately trees themselves.

Look to the young of our own species, too, for when we are gone, it will be their world. What kind of world will they inherit from us? Here is the Leelanau Children's Center in Northport, on parade Friday, April 26.

"Day of the Young Child"
The days are getting longer. Morning comes early. It’s spring, and it’s good to be alive. Don't you feel a little younger today, no matter how old you are?

Wild leeks in the woods


Dawn said...

I have hope too. Along my suburban walks at lunch I saw many many large ash trees die over the past 5 years or so. But last fall I saw the young ones and they were beautiful. I think perhaps they are stronger than we thought. Also, I know that the Extension office was saving seeds from the trees several years ago when all this began in the hopes that once we figured out how to get rid of the borer we could plant again.

P. J. Grath said...

Good, we will agree to be optimistic about ash trees in the future! And maybe next year I will post about trees on Arbor Day, rather than a day late.

Kathy said...

Pamela, you have me wondering about ash trees--and what I've missed seeing when looking at them. Subtle, varied, yummy colors of ash leaves? We don't have too many ash in our woods, but perhaps I should have sat down beside this tree and truly looked--as you apparently have done. The emerald ash borer has been spotted here, too. Alas...

P. J. Grath said...

Kathy, if you didn't click on the link to my post from last October, you might want to take a look at it. Fall colors of ash come in a rich variety. Some trees seem mostly one color, others mostly another, while a few display a range. They are not as showy as maples or tamarack, but once I started noticing them I couldn't stop. Well, maybe the borer will stop me for a while. No, I'll keep looking for the saplings--.

Alan Mattlage said...

Pamela, I certainly hope that optimism is justified. The worrisome caveat is that the emerald ash borer may not be species specific. While they do prefer ash trees, there is some evidence that they will survive by infesting walnut, American elm, and hackberry trees. If that's true, these other hosts could keep them alive long enough to wipe out the Ashes. I have read that there are a few species of Asian wasps that feed only on the eggs and larva of the emerald ash borer. I don't know if anyone is systematically introducing them or not. I'm always wary of introducing new invasives, but there's a lot at stake either way.

P. J. Grath said...

A biologist friend tells me that only a few years ago – did he give 2002 as the date? Sometime since the start of the new century, anyway, and 2002 seems to mark its first appearance in the U.S. – there was only one research article available on the emerald ash borer, something written by a graduate student in, I believe, China. That’s how quickly this insect has spread around the world in just a few years. The thought that it might diversify its menu is frightening, Alan. And yes, introduction of further exotic species to control has backfired seriously in other cases.