Mike Parisio, Amanda Mahaffey, Tom Newell, and Tyler Everett discuss brown ash and identifying signs of emerald ash borer.

Written by Gavi Mallory

At the beginning of March, Maine TREE Foundation co-hosted a field tour at Carleton Pond forest, a Greater Augusta Utility District Tree Farm. The program was part of Maine’s Forest Climate Change Initiative project, a collaboration between the Maine TREE Foundation, the Forest Stewards Guild, and the University of Maine’s Center for Research on Sustainable Forests. Carleton Pond forest is home to regionally rare and valuable brown ash stand, an increasingly threatened phenomena as emerald ash borer (EAB) grows its presence in Maine. UMaine PhD candidate Tyler Everett is conducting an experiment on this site to investigate pathways to brown ash resilience. Tyler, along with Tom Newell, Forester & Basket Harvester; John Daigle, UMaine Professor of Forest Recreation Management; and Mike Parisio, Maine Forest Service entomologist, spoke with attendees about the importance of brown ash and the growing threat of EAB. 

Maine’s Forest Climate Change Initiative tour group walks through the Carleton Pond Tree Farm.

Brown ash is an ecologically significant wetland species and has held a foundational role in the cultures of Wabanaki Peoples for millennia. The pliable and even nature of ash tree rings makes this tree uniquely suitable to pound, split, and weave into baskets. Emerald ash borer, a pest first detected in the United States in 2002 and Maine in 2018, is causing rapid ash decline nationwide. Researchers in Maine and elsewhere are working diligently to identify adaptive pathways to ensure ash is maintained on the landscape. 

Tom Newell and Tyler Everett describe the characteristics of basket-quality brown ash trees.

Tyler and John, along with an array of partners, including the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance, recently established the Ash Protection Collaboration Across Wabanakik (APCAW), an alliance “committed to identifying research-informed strategies to protect the future of ash in the Dawnland that align with Wabanaki priorities.” While EAB detections continue to emerge across Maine, the group’s message is one of hope. Seed collection efforts, integrated pest management strategies, and growing public awareness all contribute to the potential for a future of resilient ash ecosystems. 

Mike Parisio establishes an emerald ash borer trap tree.

At the Carleton Pond Tree Farm, a coyote was spotted dashing through the stand as Tyler described his experimental design, which incorporates a strip harvest with intentional planning to maintain high-quality ash on the landscape. Tom Newell cored a tree to demonstrate the process of identifying basket-quality specimens, and Mike Parisio established a trap tree on site, a technique used to monitor for the presence of EAB. Attendees were left with a toolbox of strategies for managing ash on the landscape and hope for a more resilient future. 

Interested in learning more about brown ash resilience in Maine? Register for upcoming workshops and webinars from APCAW here

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