WASHINGTON — State agricultural officials are asking Washingtonians to take a closer look at the trees they see this month to help protect the Evergreen State’s natural features from diseases and invasive species. According to the state Department of Natural Resources, August is “National Tree Check Month,” which asks neighbors to seek out signs of harmful insects or unhealthy trees, both around their property and in public spaces.
Officials said August is one of the best months to get an up-close look since it’s often the time of year when damage from pests or disease is most visible. This month’s effort arrives amid a new study on threats to Washington trees, along with recent concerning findings, including sooty bark disease affecting trees at a Tacoma park and the discovery of an Atlas moth in Bellevue.
In June, the Pacific Northwest confirmed the first sighting of an emerald ash borer outside Portland, Ore., a beetle that is fatal to ash trees.
“We have a forest health crisis in Washington, and we know that outbreaks of invasive insects and diseases are one of the leading threats to the long-term health of our forests,” said Hilary Franz, the state’s Commissioner of Public Lands. “Our all lands, all hands approach to forest health means we need everyone pitching in to help protect our forested lands from invasive pests.”
DNR officials said helping out just takes a few minutes out of the day, whether it’s walking around the backyard or visiting a local park, to help state experts track any concerning developments. Residents who suspect they have spotted an invasive species or tree disease can submit a report and photos to the Washington Invasive Species Council at home or on the go. Each report gets reviewed by a scientist.
“If you already exercise outdoors, walk your dog, or take your kids out to play, try adding a quick check of nearby trees for potential pests,” said Ben Thompson, DNR’s program manager for urban and community forestry. “With kids, you can even turn it into a game. Challenge them to see how many different insects they can find. Kids are great observers; insects also fascinate many children. The reporting app makes it easy to help them file a report.”
Here are the top five things to watch out for in Washington, according to DNR:
Source: Bellevue Patch