EAB reaches Chittenden County

As of Friday, October 23rd:

There have been new detections of EAB in VT: one in Richmond, VT, the first confirmed detection in Chittenden County and another detection in Shaftsbury VT, expanding the infested area in Bennington County.

The mapped area in Vermont to which “Slow-the-Spread” recommendations apply now extends to include the towns listed below in the following Confirmed Infested Area and High Risk Area.

Confirmed Infested Areas are within 5 miles of a known infestation. While symptoms may not be obvious, EAB is likely to be present in much of this area. High Risk Areas extend 5 miles from the outer edge of a Confirmed Infested Area. EAB is likely expanding into and present in some of this area.

New Towns in the Confirmed Infested Area

  • Arlington
  • Bolton
  • Essex
  • Glastenbury
  • Hinesburg
  • Huntington
  • Jericho
  • Richmond
  • Shaftsbury
  • Shelburne
  • South Burlington
  • Sunderland
  • Williston

 New Towns in the High Risk Area

  • Charlotte
  • Manchester
  • Sandgate
  • St. George
  • Stowe
  • Underhill

Forest landowners, homeowners, logging contractors, municipalities, and utilities in the infested area should evaluate the options available to them to protect their ash trees and immediately implement Vermont’s “Slow the Spread” recommendations.

 Non-flight Season Started October 1st

October 1st was the beginning of EAB’s non-flight season and the start of the least risky time to move ash materials from the infested area according to the “Slow the Spread” recommendations. Follow “Slow the Spread” recommendations to help protect uninfested forests and to give time to landowners, communities, and businesses to plan and budget for the arrival of EAB. Visit VTinvasives.org to learn more about EAB and what you can do to “Slow the Spread.”


BOB donates generously after annual Tree Sale

This year’s tree sale was especially challenging navigating through new guidelines in place from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many trees were delivered to individuals, the pick up date was changed and the pick up  hours were extended to allow for social distancing guidelines.  In spite of all the challenges, the BOB  Tree Sale was a great success and we were able to donate generously to three local organizations.  We gave $2500 to Feeding Chittenden, who has seen a 30% increase in visits due to the COVID-19 crisis.  We gave $2000 to Spectrum whose youth and families face great challenges during this pandemic  and we gave $500 to Front Porch Forum who helps neighbors connect throughout our community.  Our thanks goes to these organizations which help our community succeed in these trying times.

OnLogic donates to BOB

In early March, Branch Out Burlington! was selected by OnLogic as the recipient of their quarterly employee nominated donations.  Each quarter,  OnLogic employees nominate organizations for a $1,000 donation that aligns with their  quarterly mission. This quarter their mission is Carbon Reduction.

Of all the amazing organizations that were nominated, they  selected Branch Out Burlington as this quarter’s winner!

OnLogic is a tech company in South Burlington Vermont that works with global leaders in a variety of industries to develop computing solutions that outsmart the world’s most complex technology  challenges.

Emerald Ash Borer and the Threat to Burlington’s Trees

A few weeks ago the presence of emerald ash borer, (EAB) was confirmed in Vermont for the first time. While its arrival here has been anticipated for several years, the hope was that we would have more time before having to begin to implement a strategy in Burlington for the long-term management of this devastating exotic insect pest.

Emerald ash borer first appeared in the United States in 2002 near Detroit Michigan. It is believed to have been brought into the country in wooden packing crates from Asia. The adult emerald ash borer is a small metallic green beetle about a half inch long that is known to attack all native species of ash in North America. The adults feed on the leaves of ash before depositing eggs on the bark of the tree. Upon hatching, the larvae burrow through the bark and into the inner bark layer or cambium of the tree. There they feed on the phloem and outer xylem forming s-shaped galleries and essentially disrupting the vascular system of the tree causing canopy dieback, rapid decline, and eventual death of the tree. The rapid rate of reproduction of the beetle can lead to very high population levels in a few years following the initial infestation and trees can be killed within two years if heavily infested. For more information on the life cycle of EAB, its identification, and the signs and symptoms of infestation go to vtinvasives.org.

Despite extensive efforts to contain and eradicate EAB in Michigan when it first was detected, the insect has prevailed and has devastated ash populations across the mid-west and northeast killing millions of trees and costing millions of dollars. EAB has been detected in 32 states and 3 Canadian provinces.

The confirmation of EAB in Vermont has significant implications for the City of Burlington both financially and aesthetically as ash currently accounts for about 10 percent of the total 12,000 plus trees in our inventory which includes trees along streets, in parks, and in cemeteries. This figure does not include ash in woodland habitats such as forested parkland or areas along the bike path.

An EAB management plan has been developed by the former City Arborist, Warren Spinner that outlines management options and provides cost estimates for each option based on the total number of ash currently in the city inventory. The location, as well as the current condition of all ash in the inventory, has been updated and will be a valuable tool moving forward as we begin to make decisions to implement various strategies.

Management options outlined in the management plan include closely monitoring city ash trees for signs or symptom of EAB, proactively removing a certain percentage of ash in the current inventory, primarily those that are in the poorest health, and planting new trees in their place, and treating healthy high value trees with an approved insecticide prior to infestation to protect them from borer attack. Removals and replanting or protective treatment both result in significant expense that far exceeds the current annual budget for the ongoing management of Burlington’s urban trees and each option will likely invoke an emotional debate by those advocating for or against each option. Funding of implementation of the EAB management plan may require additional funding outside of the annual budget for tree maintenance and funding for long-term plans to treat and retain healthy trees may be achieved in part by an appeal to private citizens to ‘adopt a tree’ and provide financial assistance for its long-term treatment.

Ultimately, whatever plans are implemented, it will likely be a combination of strategies that strives to balance potential environmental impacts and budget limitations, as well as the support of the city administration and the public.

While ash currently make up a significant percentage of the city’s tree inventory, it is worth noting that sound management strategies by the former City Arborist over the last two decades have served to significantly diversify the number of tree species in the city’s inventory and no new ash have been planted in the city since the arrival of EAB in Michigan in 2002. As a result, Burlington is far better positioned to manage the impacts of EAB than it was to recover from the loss of elms throughout the city that fell victim to Dutch Elm Disease in the past several decades.

In the coming weeks and months, I will be scheduling time to meet with city officials, attend neighborhood planning assembly meetings for each ward, and meet with other interested community groups to further educate them on EAB and outline in more detail the management strategies and their relative costs, as their feedback may help to direct decisions surrounding the implementation of management options for EAB. I will also be researching the EAB management plans of various communities throughout the region who have been actively implementing their plans for the past several years to gain a better understanding of what strategies have proven to be most effective, as well as what creative strategies have been successful in aiding in the financial support of their plans.


VJ Comai
Burlington City Arborist
April 10, 2018