BENNINGTON - Planning has begun in Bennington for the arrival of the emerald ash borer (EAB), a non-native invasive killer of ash trees.

Volunteers from the state's Forest Pest First Detectors program and staff with the Bennington County Regional Commission and the Bennington County Conservation District met this week with Town of Bennington planning director Dan Monks to start working on a municipal response plan for the insect.

The first step in developing a plan will be mapping the Town's ash trees.

Tree-wise volunteers will be needed this autumn to walk or bike or drive local roads to locate and count ash trees in or near the Town right-of-way. The number of trees will help determine how the Town will deal with the invasion: how it will remove the trees, where they will be stored while awaiting disposal, and how they will be disposed of. Studies from communities where EAB has become established show that it costs an average $300 per tree to respond to EAB infestations.

First discovered in 2002 in Michigan, the emerald ash borer has since spread east and west, leaving behind millions of dead trees. (The species causes almost 100% ash mortality.)

While its natural rate of spread is one-half mile annually, it has "moved 65 miles an hour" on transported firewood. Now it is on Vermont's doorstep: earlier this year the pest was discovered in Dalton, Mass. and Voorheesville, N.


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For more information on the project, contact the Bennington County Conservation District at 802-442-2275 or bccd@sover.net.