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Oct 10, 2017 3:12 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Southern Pine Beetle Infestation Found In East Hampton Forest

An overview of Northwest Creek in East Hampton, with the brown-topped trees being those near death. COURTESY ANDREW DRAKE
Oct 11, 2017 3:59 PM

East Hampton has some unwanted new visitors: southern pine beetles.

According to East Hampton Town Environmental Analyst Andy Drake, an infestation of the small, destructive insect has spread over 6 acres of preserved land between the northern section of Swamp Road in East Hampton and the Sag Harbor Golf Course.

While usually found in Southern states, the beetle infestations were first noticed on Long Island in 2014 and have been seen earlier as far east as Hampton Bays, Southampton and Shinnecock Hills. Mr. Drake said that he and his co-workers have been working with the State Department of Environmental Conservation since 2014 by using aerial photography to search local forest areas for infestations. He added that he and his co-workers discovered the East Hampton infestation on September 29 after noticing a collection of pitch pine trees with brown tops on the preserved land that they were monitoring at the time.

“The brown tops of the trees indicated that they were dying, so we went to look at the area for any infestation,” Mr. Drake said on Tuesday after presenting his findings to the Town Board at its work session in Montauk. “After we saw the infestation, we flagged the whole perimeter the following Monday.”

Mr. Drake said the property, which is co-owned by Suffolk County and the Town of East Hampton, may have up to 800 trees infested with the beetles that would have to be cut down to control the infestation.

The beetles usually bore into the trees and create S-shaped “galleries,” or pathways, in the inner bark to lay eggs. Air holes they leave in their wake block the flow of nutrients that the tree needs to be distributed. This allows fungus to grow, which the beetles will eat but which can end up killing the tree.

Mr. Drake said that once the beetles are hatched and fully grown, they simply leave the tree and move on to another pitch pine tree, which he also said was the most common pine tree on Long Island.

On Tuesday, Mr. Drake asked the Town Board for permission to apply for a Southern Pine Beetle Community Recovery Grant, co-sponsored by the State DEC and the State Environmental Protection Fund. The board approved his request and he is currently working to complete the application before a submission deadline of Thursday, October 19.

The grant can be up for up to $75,000 in funds. Mr. Drake estimates the work to curb the beetle infestation will cost approximately $80,000, but no figure or management plan has yet been finalized.

The two most popular methods of handling an infestation are cutting down the infested trees and chopping them up with a wood chipper, or cutting them down and leaving them on the ground, where predators can consume the beetles.

“We’re just exploring options right now and seeking guidance from New York State foresters,” Mr. Drake said.

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here is an opportunity to use biological fertility methods developed by biodynamic and organic farmers over the past 150 years. the trees/woods are depleted of minerals and essential nutrients. that is why the beatles are there eating.
By sstorch (47), water milll on Oct 12, 17 8:32 AM
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