It seems with increasing frequency we are hearing reports about invasive species and the effect they have on natural ecosystems. Where there is human activity, invasives are likely to be found. Fort Ticonderoga is no exception and has its share of invasive exotics such as shrubby honeysuckle and garlic mustard. Once sought-after garden plants, their seeds are spread by birds or mammals from wild populations that escaped cultivated gardens decades ago. Each spring, stands of garlic mustard that encroach on public spaces on the Fort Ticonderoga peninsula are pulled to help control its spread and The Nature Conservancy works each summer to control water chestnut in the LaChute outlet near the Fort.
A new pest is on the horizon that threatens the large population of ash trees (genus Fraxinus) that thrive in the Northeast and are plentiful in the Champlain Valley. The emerald ash borer was recently reported in Duchess County in southern New York. It was previously found in six counties in western New York and four in the Hudson Valley. This tiny insect feeds in tunnels just below the bark, disrupting the transportation of water and nutrients throughout the tree, eventually leading to death.
According to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, New York has more than 900 million ash trees that make up about 7% of the state’s total tree population. Groups such as the DEC, the Adirondack Invasive Plant Program, the National Park Service, the Nature Conservancy, the USDA Forest Service and others continually monitor, test and raise awareness for invasive species.
Living history demonstrations and events held at the Fort normally feature open fires that
were a part of daily camp life for soldiers stationed here in the 18th century. The wood used for these fires is harvested nearby as it was centuries ago when groups of enlisted men
were assigned the task of gathering wood to fuel the campfires, bake ovens and fireplaces of the Fort. Only locally harvested wood is used for our events.
Keep in mind when you are traveling to and from New York, a regulation is in effect that prohibits the import of firewood into the state unless it has been heat treated to kill pests. The regulation also limits the transportation of untreated firewood to less than 50 miles from its source. Quarantines exist which further restrict firewood transportation. (For a Firewood Questions & Answers fact sheet click here: Don’t move firewood.) Learning how you can help and sharing information about curbing the spread of invasive species will help protect and preserve the landscapes we live, work and play in.
Curator of Landscape