How to keep your land pest-free

The Progress-Index - At Home - - News - STATEPOINT

Spend­ing time out­doors can recharge the soul and bring the fam­ily to­gether. In your own back­yard you can find beauty, en­joy­ment and a place to con­nect with na­ture -- so long as you make sure to main­tain all those beau­ti­ful trees and plants.

Whether you have a gar­den, wood­lands or nat­u­ral land­scap­ing on your prop­erty, you’ll want to keep your land healthy and free of un­wanted pests. And ex­perts say that wood­lands need spe­cial at­ten­tion.

“Al­though trees look strong, wood­land ecosys­tems are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble to nat­u­ral and man-made dangers that can grad­u­ally re­duce the health and beauty of your woods,” says Mike Burns, forester and pro­gram re­source man­ager with the Amer­i­can For­est Foun­da­tion.

A U.S. For­est Ser­vice as­sess­ment re­leased last De­cem­ber pre­dicts that as many as 34 mil­lion acres of forest­land could be lost in the United States dur­ing the next 50 years, and that all re­gions in the United States will ex­pe­ri­ence in­creased stress from nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and pest in­fes­ta­tions.

Luck­ily, there are steps landown­ers can take to help keep trees and wood­lands safe from pests:

• Keep an eye out for changes. On trees, spots of yel­low or brown or some thin­ning nee­dles might be the ef­fects of nat­u­ral shad­ing on lower limbs -- or it might be a dis­ease or in­sect that’s about to spread to other trees.

• Stay in­formed about threats in your area. Con­tact your state forestry agency or state depart­ment of nat­u­ral re­sources to find out what’s bug­ging your area.

• Mon­i­tor for pests and signs of dis­ease ev­ery month or two. Check trees on the trunk, limbs, twigs, un­der peel­ing bark and leaves -- the most likely places to find in­juries. Keep your eye open for things that look out of the or­di­nary.

• On­line re­sources can help you be­come a bet­ter stew­ard of your land. If you own some wood­lands, con­sider sign­ing up for the My Land Plan re­source, launched by the Amer­i­can For­est Foun­da­tion. My Land Plan can help you con­nect with up-to-date in­for­ma­tion about pest threats, map your land’s bound­aries and record changes over time, all at www.MyLandPlan.org. You can ex­plore the web­site’s newly ex­panded inva- sive pest and pathogen sec­tion and lo­cate pro­fes­sional ser­vices avail­able for your needs.

• If you sus­pect an out­break, col­lect sam­ples of tree dam­age and any as­so­ci­ated pests to ac­cu­rately iden­tify the prob­lem, which may have more than one cause. Take pic­tures and notes on your trees’ symp­toms. Of­ten pic­tures are enough for an ex­pert to iden­tify the prob­lem and help you fig­ure out what to do next. Next steps can be iden­ti­fied by your state forestry agency or depart­ment of nat­u­ral re­sources.

• If you dis­cover an in­sect that you sus­pect might be a dan­ger to your trees, seal it in a con­tainer and store it in the freezer un­til you can de­liver it to a proper au­thor­ity.

In the long run, na­ture might well be in­vin­ci­ble, but in the short run, res­i­dents may need a help­ing hand to pro­tect lo­cal land to keep trees healthy.

STATEPOINT PHOTO

Keep a close watch on your trees. Wood­land ecosys­tems are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble to nat­u­ral and man-made dangers.

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