The Explorer is right to focus on the problem of invasive forest pests (“The Forest Patrol,” January/February), which are the biggest threat to forest health in the Adirondack Park and throughout the eastern U.S. But the article missed an important point: Why do new forest pests keep invading the park and killing our trees? The answer is that the federal trade regulations that should prevent these pests from entering the country are lax and poorly enforced.
This is not a local issue or even a state issue, because once these pests enter the country through international trade it is almost impossible to keep them from spreading. They have no regard for state boundaries or the blue line. It makes much more sense to keep the pests out of the country in the first place rather than trying to deal with them after they are here.
Most forest pests arrive in this country through two trade pathways—burrowed in wooden pallets, or infesting live plants that are imported for landscaping. Pest invasions through both pathways could be effectively shut down if there was sufficient awareness and political will.
The most important thing Adirondack residents can do is to send a message to their federal representatives—Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Congresswoman Stefanik or other representatives—to say that we have had enough of this continuing onslaught of forest pests, and that they should take action to prevent future invasions. In addition, readers can contact the Adirondack environmental organizations that are supposed to be protecting our forests, and tell them they need to engage on this issue before we see more of our trees die. More information and specific policies for dealing with the problem can be found at www.caryinstitute.org/tree-smart-trade.
Gary M. Lovett, forest ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
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