The ALB Reforestation Project on Long Island

Addie, KC & Nick (S. Alvey) 2015 72
(from left) Addie Cappello, K.C. Alvey, and Nick Bates at the Annual Fall Festival at the CCE-Nassau County East Meadow Farm

On Long Island, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County (CCE-NC) is wrapping up a successful season of planting with their Asian Longhorned Beetle Reforestation Project.

The Project is coordinated by CCE-NC Urban Forestry Educator Nicholas Bates with support from Horticulture Assistants Addie Cappello and K.C. Alvey, Horticulture Educator Vincent Drzewucki Jr., and CCE-NC Executive Director Greg Sandor. This article is written by K.C. Alvey, who also prepared a very, very cool timeline about the work the Asian Longhorned Beetle Reforestation Project has accomplished thus far.

From authors Alvey, Cappello, and Bates:
It has been an exciting fall between leading public outreach events and coordinating plantings on public and private properties across Farmingdale, NY and Amityville, NY, communities that were hard-hit by the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation. Since its initial arrival from Asia to Brooklyn in 1996, this invasive beetle has decimated thousands of trees across Long Island, particularly maples, elms, ashes, and other known host species. This infestation has caused economic damage, in addition to environmental damage, and threatens tourism, recreation, the maple sugar industry, arboriculture, and landscaping.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County is fortunate to have been awarded $595,000 of a major $1 million grant from the US Forest Service in May 2015 for our Asian Longhorned Beetle Reforestation Project. CCE-NC is working in partnership with the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the US Forest Service, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the US Department of Agriculture, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets, and the Town of Babylon. We aim to revitalize Long Island’s urban and community forests, starting with the quarantine zone along the border of Nassau and Suffolk Counties, where the USDA has had to remove over 10,000 trees in an effort to eradicate the beetle and prevent its spread.  

Timeline launch
Alvey, Cappello, and Bates created this impressive, interactive timeline about the 2015 activities of the Long Island Reforestation project, which had its kickoff event on May 6.

Since our program launched in May 2015, we have been busy reaching out to residential and commercial property owners eligible for free trees, coordinating with various stakeholders and contractors to replant along the Southern State Parkway, developing reforestation plans, and conducting public events to get the word out about this new initiative. Our goals for this project are to help aid in the eradication of the Asian Longhorned Beetle by planting non-host tree species, to reforest Long Island by implementing the practice of silviculture, and to educate the public about the benefits of urban and community forestry.

Silviculture is a scientific framework for analyzing decision-making for the management of forested areas, which can help us maximize the sustainability of an ecosystem.  With the Asian Longhorned Beetle Reforestation Project, we created a planting list of about 100 trees that are not susceptible to the beetle, based off of a comprehensive list compiled by the US Forest Service. This list is available at www.ccenassau.org/albreforestation. By prioritizing tree diversity, we are able to better ensure the long-term stability of Long Island’s urban forests and decrease the risk of damage due to pests and diseases in the future.

With this project, we are focused on three main types of properties: cemeteries, private land (both residential and commercial), and public land (several locations along the Southern State Parkway). Each kind of site required a slightly different process, but all involved coordinating with property owners and stakeholders to develop reforestation plans based on aesthetic preferences, property use, soil type, water availability, maintenance considerations, and existing species diversity. Our Urban Forestry Educator, Nicholas Bates, worked with property owners to select appropriate species and locations for their new trees, with an emphasis on increasing overall tree species diversity in the community.

Through utilizing i-Tree Design, a free online platform developed by the US Forest Service and the US Department of Agriculture that calculates and displays the economic and ecological benefits of trees, we were able to convey the many tangible benefits of planting trees, including savings related to stormwater runoff, air quality improvement, carbon reduction, and energy costs. Other important benefits of trees include increased access to green space, a heightened sense of community, habitat for wildlife and pollinators, and increased property values.

Once property owners selected their new trees, we worked with contractors, including Bartlett Tree Experts and Starkie Brothers Custom Landscaping, to plant during tree planting season this fall. CCE-NC staff ensured that trees were planted properly and educated property owners about tree care and maintenance.

In an effort to educate the public about the environmental, social, and economic benefits of trees, CCE-NC staff also participated in several community festivals and events near the quarantine zone in 2015, including the Long Island Fair at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, the 4th Annual CCE Fall Festival at the East Meadow Farm, and the Farmingdale Fall Festival. We look forward to coordinating educational workshops and volunter events for the coming year.

IMG_1231
This temporary nursery was created by Nicholas Bates, Urban Forestry Educator, at the CCE-NC East Meadow Farm, in order to store trees throughout Summer 2015.

In total for 2015, we planted 229 trees  at 30 private properties, two cemeteries, and public sites throughout the quarantine zone. This included 69 trees on private properties, 137 at cemeteries, and 23 trees along the Southern State Parkway in Farmingdale, NY and Amityville, NY. We are grateful for the help of all partners involved who made this first year a success.

Looking ahead to 2016, CCE-NC will spend the winter reaching out to additional eligible property owners, coordinating the logistics for spring planting, and working with community partners, including the Master Gardener Urban Forestry Committee to host workshops and educational events on tree care. We are excited about the opportunity to build a strengthened Urban & Community Forestry Department at CCE-NC and to generate support for healthy urban forests. As we gear up for the new year, follow our progress on Facebook as “Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County” and Twitter @CCENassau, as well as our website: www.ccenassau.org/albreforestation.

Responses from Property Owners:

“Now that the replacement trees are in, I must thank you and Cornell Cooperative Extension. I am certain that they will be well cared for and will mature, enhancing the landscape and our environment.” – resident

“Thank you for all of your time and effort in this matter … Hopefully you guys get the ALB under control!” – business owner

“Thank you and your team once again for meeting with members of our community the other night. Great presentation! I’m handing out the pamphlet you created this weekend in our neighborhood.” – resident

“You guys were awesome, and the whole crew did an amazing job.”- business owner

 

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