Forest news: Hinesburg Town Forest, gypsy moths, EAB

-A A +A

Forest news: Hinesburg Town Forest, gypsy moths, EAB

Thu, 06/24/2021 - 5:46am -- tim

Demonstration and Education at the Hinesburg Town Forest
Take a Self-Guided Tour Through an Ecologically-Managed Forest

by Ethan Tapper, Chittenden County Forester The Hinesburg Town Forest Committee and the Chittenden County Forester invite the public to visit the Hinesburg Town Forest to learn more about responsible forest management. From 2018-2020, an innovative forest management project at the Hinesburg Town Forest (HTF) was completed, using a type of forest management called “ecological forestry.” Through this project, the HTF sought to demonstrate a thoughtful approach to the stewardship of Vermont’s forests, simultaneously managing for wildlife, biodiversity, climate resilience, carbon sequestration and storage, local, renewable resources and more.

A major goal of this project was also to showcase responsible forest management to the public in an open, transparent and inclusive way. Over the two winters that the project was active, 19 public events were held, attended by more than 500 people. The project reached still more Vermonters through articles and appearances on local television and radio programs. For more information about this innovative outreach project, check out a “story map” about the project, here: https://arcg.is/09zfC1

To continue educating the public on this project into the future, a self-guided tour has been created, consisting of 8 “stops,” each marked by interpretive signage created by the Chittenden County Forester in partnership with students from the University of Vermont and the Hinesburg Town Forest Committee and funded by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department’s Habitat Stamp program. Each sign contains information on different aspects of the project, linking to educational resources and videos with QR Codes, with the goal being to give the public the tools to understand what happened and why it happened.

To take the virtual tour, visit the HTF’s trailhead at the end of Economou Road in Huntington. A sign by the trailhead kiosk will guide you through the download of the free Avenza Maps app and a map that will allow you to navigate to each stop on the tour using your smartphone.

The public are also invited to visit a forest management project that has yet to be completed at the HTF. This project will occur over two winters from 2021-2023, from the HTF’s trailhead on Hayden Hill Road East in Hinesburg. Signage at the Hayden Hill East trailhead will provide the means to download the Avenza Maps app and navigate through the area to be managed in 2021-22, see the trees marked to be cut. The Chittenden County Forester and the Hinesburg Town Forest Committee welcome your questions, comments and feedback on this project.  

FOREST PEST UPDATE

Gypsy Moth:

If you've been experiencing a plague of caterpillars defoliating your trees, you're not alone. I've been getting reports from all over the Champlain Valley (in Chittenden County I have reports from Hinesburg, Williston, Essex, Milton and Colchester) of a gypsy moth outbreak – what seems to be the first outbreak of this non-native insect in Vermont since 1991. Gypsy moth caterpillars often defoliate oak species, although they are known to feed on more than 300 species of trees and shrubs including maples. They can create a nuisance for homeowners, from the sights of caterpillars climbing the sides of residences and falling excrement to the sounds of chewing on leaves.

The gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) is native to Europe and was introduced to Massachusetts in 1869. Its population in Vermont is generally mitigated by a fungus (Entomophaga maimaiga), which may be being suppressed by droughty conditions over the last few years. While in Vermont, gypsy moth is known to be generally non-fatal to trees, repeated defoliation can kill trees – in more southerly portions of its range it is known to cause widespread mortality. US Forest Service has a short podcast that can give you a quick rundown on the history of the gypsy moth and it's relationship to Entomophaga at: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/balance-barrier-slowing-the-gypsy-moths-spread/id1500326560?i=1000468199622

There are a few treatments that could be effective for protecting your trees from gypsy moth defoliation – most are more practical for protecting a few trees rather than a whole forest. The most commonly recommended pesticide treatments contain the bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (Btk). Btk is applied to foliage where gypsy moth larvae will consume it and are then killed. This strain of bacteria is specific to moth larvae, and its toxic properties get activated when it interacts with particular enzymes in the caterpillar's digestive tract. You can find a certified arborist (and certified pesticide applicator) who can help you with applying Btk via the following website: https://www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist/findanarborist.

Gypsy moth feeding will continue through the growing season and more reports of defoliation are expected. To learn more about management options (and gypsy moth in general) check out the resources at: https://www.vtinvasives.org/invasive/gypsy-moth

The good news is that the defoliation will likely be over by the end of June, and that if this is your first year of major defoliation your trees will likely re-sprout leaves and survive. Although gypsy moth caterpillars are damaging, otherwise healthy trees can often survive a few years of successive defoliation. Defoliation and drought conditions, can combine to stress tree health and vigor. Due to this combination of stressors, Vermont may see another year or two of high levels of gypsy moth activity unless the state sees some rainy seasons to increase the population of Entomophaga.

We at the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation are monitoring the gypsy moth situation this year, and will be considering recommending larger-scale treatment options for next year if the gypsy moth population looks to be building.

Emerald Ash Borer:

There has been a new detection of EAB in Colchester, which has expanded the infested area within Chittenden County. While we aren't finding EAB everywhere, we assume that it is much more widely-spread -- the area that we now consider "infested" basically covers the whole County (see map at link below)

We are still recommending taking action to "slow the spread" of EAB, giving our municipalities, homeowners, utilities and forest landowners more time to respond to EAB in a thoughtful way. The Infested Area Map (https://vtanr.maps.arcgis.com/apps/PublicInformation/index.html?appid=cfda013ad1464b7b9103a3d7806f0cc5) to which "Slow-the-Spread" recommendations apply now expands the infested area in the towns listed below

Forest landowners, homeowners, foresters, logging contractors, municipalities, and utilities in the infested area should evaluate the options available to them to protect ash trees and immediately implement Vermont's "Slow the Spread" recommendations, which you can find at: https://vtinvasives.org/land/emerald-ash-borer-vermont/slow-spread-of-eab

If you have questions about managing ash in your woodlot or around your home, or need Use Value Appraisal guidance, check out the resources available at VTinvasives.org.

Forest Management at the Andrews Community Forest
I made my final video update on this project last week! Find all the links and resources related to this project here
LinkTree
Check out my YouTube channel, sign up for my email list, stay posted about my various projects and see other links and resources at my Linktree, here