I've had several people ask me if I knew anything about the purple triangles that resemble box-kites which have been turning up in trees along Adirondack roadsides.
I inquired at the DEC and was told the devices are being used to trap and monitor the spread of a rather nasty invasive beetle called the Emerald Ash Borer.
Originally discovered in southeastern Michigan in 2002, the beetle has slowly migrated east and was just recently discovered in the southern part of New York State.
That's bad news for the more than 900 million ash trees in the state - a number that makes up about seven percent of all the trees here.
As its name implies, the Emerald Ash Borer gnaws its way into the trunk of a tree. Damage is done by the larvae, which feed in tunnels called galleries just below the bark.
The serpentine galleries disrupt water and nutrient transport, causing branches, and eventually the entire tree, to die.
In the past seven years, the beetle has been linked to the destruction of more than 70 million ash trees. DEC officials are rightfully concerned at the presence of the beetle in NY, thus the purple triangles hanging in local trees.
The primary method of transport is through untreated firewood, which is why the DEC has banned out-of-state firewood and restricted intrastate transport of firewood that has not been kiln dried to 50 miles.
Still, that is a tough regulation to police. Attempting to stop hundreds of thousands of campers from tossing a few sticks of firewood into their trunk before visiting the Adirondacks is a tough order to fill.
Nevertheless, conservationists say it is crucial if we'd like to avoid economic and environmental impacts, the likes of which have not been seen since the Chestnut Blight or Dutch Elm Disease.
"This discovery emphasizes the need to establish a national early detection network around major ports of entry so we can intercept these pests before they become established," said Troy Weldy, director of Ecological Management for The Nature Conservancy. "It is also important for citizens to understand that these pests are easily transported in firewood. We ask everyone to do their part by only burning wood close to where they buy it."
DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis had similar sentiments.
"This is yet another wake-up call for all New Yorkers that invasive species pose a grave threat to the health of our natural resources and ecosystems, and ultimately, our economy. Tough but practical measures, such as quarantines, firewood regulations, public education and other regulatory actions will continue to be needed if we are to limit the damage from EAB and other invasives."
What to look for
Adult beetles leave distinctive D-shaped exit holes in the outer bark of the branches and the trunk. Other signs of infection include tree canopy dieback, yellowing, extensive sprouting from the roots and trunk (called "epicormic shoots") and browning of leaves. Infested trees may also exhibit woodpecker damage from larvae extraction. Report suspected damage to the state by calling 1-866-640-0652.
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.