Officials warn woodland owners to beware of ‘ash fraud’|
Responding to recent reports that timber buyers are using misinformation to pressure northern Michigan woodland owners into selling their ash for timber, state foresters and Michigan State University specialists remind all landowners to seek professional review before selling ash trees.
The emerald ash borer is an exotic pest from eastern Asia that is infesting and killing ash trees in southeast Michigan, northwest Ohio, and Windsor, Ontario. The pest is a serious threat to Michigan’s ash resources, but field surveys in Michigan have not yet detected EAB infestation beyond the six-county quarantine area that includes Monroe, Wayne, Washtenaw, Livingston, Oakland, and Macomb counties. Communities and private landowners outside the quarantine area should remain alert for signs of EAB, but should not presume their ash trees are in immediate danger of EAB infestation.
“We are aware of at least two recent incidents where timber buyers pressured landowners to sell ash trees in areas of northern Michigan that are well outside the EAB infestation area, using misinformation about the spread and damage of EAB,” said Deb McCullough, MSU forestry entomologist. “It is an unethical business tactic that all woodland owners should be aware of and report to state and university extension agents.”
Timber from ash trees, especially white ash, is valuable. Landowners should not feel pressured to sell their merchantable ash trees for timber. Trees infested by the borer are still salvageable in the wood fiber and sawtimber market. Local, state and federal agencies are working with landowners and communities in and near the infested counties to eradicate the pest and help landowners with their woodland and landscape ash trees.
“When timber harvesting is called for in a plan, it should be done in a sustainable manner,” said Russ Kidd, district MSUE forester based in Roscommon County. “Trees to be harvested should be carefully selected based on size, species, maturity, and other factors. Landowners should be wary of timber buyers who don’t show a long-term interest and respect for the trees in their woodlot”.
Landowners approached by timber buyers to sell ash trees, or any trees, are encouraged to get a second opinion before agreeing to any harvesting activity.
“While there are a lot of honest timber buyers and procurement foresters out there, there also are a lot of unscrupulous buyers,” says David Neumann, Michigan DNR service forester.
For more information, contact county MSUE offices, local Conservation District offices, or regional DNR service centers. Several websites cover various forestry topics, including the DNR website and the Michigan State University Forestry Area of Expertise website.
Landowners seeking EAB information can call the toll-free EAB hotline, 866-325-0023, or check online at www.michigan.gov/mda.