January 28, 2021 | By: Carol Lea Spence

LEXINGTON, Ky., — Invasive insects and plants pose a serious threat to the health of Kentucky’s 12.4 million acres of forests. The 2nd annual Forest Health Conference, presented by the University of Kentucky Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, will examine this problem from 1-4 p.m. EST Feb. 5 via Zoom. The conference is free and open to forest professionals, woodland owners or anyone interested in natural lands.

“No matter what your management objective is for your woodlands, invasive species are coming in and throwing a wrench in those plans,” said Ellen Crocker, UK assistant extension professor in forest health with the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “If you do nothing, that’s still doing something, and it might not give you the result you want. Active management is key, whether you wish to harvest timber or just want to encourage a vibrant, diverse native-plant community that will benefit wildlife and enhance recreation.”

A variety of speakers from Kentucky and surrounding states will talk about the overall health of Kentucky’s woodlands and efforts to control invasive and destructive plants and insects.

Speakers include Abe Nielsen and Alexandra Blevins of the Kentucky Division of Forestry, who will speak about forest health issues in Kentucky. Phillip Baldauf, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, will give an update on the Asian longhorned beetle, a large beetle that attacks and kills maple trees. Though the beetle has not yet been found in the state, it is in Ohio. In Kentucky, where red maple accounts for more than 12% of all trees and a local maple syrup industry is beginning to take off, the beetle could wreak environmental and economic damage without informed mitigation efforts.

There will be a panel on invasive plant management with Lori Chamberlin of the Virginia Department of Forestry speaking about grazing invasive plants; Kristen Wickert, West Virginia Department of Agriculture, will discuss native fungal biocontrol of tree-of-heaven; and Jess Slade of the Office of Kentucky Nature Preserves will focus on invasive plant management in sensitive areas.

Crocker will give participants a quick overview of the HealthyWoods app, and Cliff Sadof of Purdue University will focus on chemical control of the emerald ash borer. Jared Westbrook of The American Chestnut Foundation will give updates on efforts to bring the American chestnut back to eastern forests.

Pesticide applicators and members of the Society of American Foresters can receive continuing education hours for attending the conference.

Registration is required and can be accomplished online at http://forestry.ca.uky.edu/fhc-conference. Questions should be directed to Crocker at e.crocker@uky.edu.

Other sponsoring agencies are the Kentucky Division of Forestry, Office of the State Entomologist, UK Department of Entomology, Kentucky Invasive Plant Council and the Forest Health Task Force.

Contact: 

Ellen Crocker, e.crocker@uky.edu