At some point roughly 20 years ago, a shipment from Asia arrived in the United States with a passel of six-legged stowaways lurking in its wooden pallets. Since it was first detected near Detroit in 2002, the emerald ash borer has gnawed its way through ash trees across North America, leaving a swath of destruction across 31 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces — and counting.
The EAB was first spotted in North Carolina in 2013, when it was confirmed in Granville, Person, Vance and Warren counties, a contiguous area in the central part of the state bordering Virginia. Now it’s present in 33 of the state’s 100 counties and continues to spread. WNC counties with confirmed ash borer infestations are Haywood, Swain, Macon, Graham, Buncombe, Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties — this month, the N.C. Forest Service found EAB on several trees in the Alarka area of Swain County after the beetle was initially found in Bryson City last summer.
Take a walk in mid-May, and you probably won’t get far before finding somebody bent over a garden bed, weeding. Eric Romaniszyn and Christine O’Brien were doing just that on a warm Thursday afternoon, but they weren’t in a garden — they were on a stream bank. Specifically, they were on the bank alongside Richland Creek at Vance Street Park in Waynesville.
“We try to take every little piece out,” Romaniszyn said, yanking a clump of Japanese knotweed roots out of the dirt and stowing them in the trash bag by his side.
More than 300 Macon County students and others interested in the natural landscape will attend Invasive Species Awareness Day from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday, April 2, on the Little Tennessee River Greenway in Franklin.
Learn about how exotic species are a scourge on the native mountain ecosystem and what can be done to combat them.
This educational get-together is part of N.C. Invasive Plant Awareness Week, an opportunity to teach identification, control and prevention of exotic invasive plants and animals in natural areas. The event is hosted by the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee and Friends of the Greenway.
Experts from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River, Western North Carolina Alliance and others will host educational displays, give brief presentations and answer questions about exotic invasive plants, insects, mammals, fish and aquatic invertebrates. Weed-eating goats will also be on the greenway to demonstrate a natural method for removing exotic invasive plants. Additional topics to be covered include the importance of streamside buffers for water quality, methods of native habitat restoration and the benefits of healthy forest soils.
A rain date is set for Wednesday, April 4.