Be aware of new threat to ash trees


To the Editor:

Folks who frequently hike or exercise your dogs on the Greenway might have noticed it was closed July 22-26. Dying white ash trees (Fraxinus americana) was the concern for the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department.

Unfortunately an aggressive pest, the emerald or green ash borer beetle, has arrived here recently. It attacks healthy trees with devastating results. Although I frequently walk my dog on the Greenway, I did not notice the infested trees until this year when the tops were defoliated and our trees were already badly infested. I wondered if the trees could be salvaged since there were some logs with diameters nearly 2 feet in diameter. The JCPRD hopes to make the wood available for winter heat if it can be kept locally and not spread beetles beyond our infected area.

This pest arrived within recent weeks. It has been quarantined all across North Carolina since 2017. It was first detected in Detroit in 2002 and has been quickly spreading both north into Canada and southward into the rest of the United States. It appeared in Southern states all the way to Alabama by 2016.

Its sporadic introduction is due to the transportation of infected wood containing enclosed beetle larvae, and some undoubtedly was from folks camping and bringing firewood here in their cars. It has likely infested in white or green ash trees on your property.

The spokesman at the N.C. District Forest Service office here in Sylva said all major county streams have infestations and the beetles apparently fly upstream where trees are attacked.  When present, there are D-shaped holes a little smaller than a pencil eraser. Soon afterward the top branches defoliate and die. Trees located within 10-15 miles of a quarantined area are susceptible to these beetles. This includes both the Cullowhee and Sylva regions. It has likely infested in white or green ash trees on your property. 

So if you have ash trees what do you need to do to save your trees? This is a particularly difficult issue with this aggressive beetle. Some research at the University of Michigan has suggested that an insecticide may be applicable. The systemic insecticide, imidacloprid, is one that homeowners have used to control hemlock adelgids. It can be soil drenched if the tree is not on the edge of a stream in mid fall or mid-March to mid-April. Imidacloprid is one of the neonicotinoid insecticides, i.e., nicotine-like, and has been a major problem with honeybee and many other bee species declines.

Our ashes are wind pollinated, but bees gather their pollen for food. So possibly another soil drench insecticide less poisonous for bees should be used. Contact our local N.C. Forest Ranger’s office at 631-9316 for alternatives. In any event, the use of insecticides to control emerald ash borer can be a hazardous for other important insects, birds, and certainly aquatic organisms including fish.

Dan Pittillo,


Proposed changes for N.C. 107 should be put on ballot


To the Editor:


It’s suicide! The lifeblood of all governments is tax revenues. Yet, our state government through the Department of Transportation is dead set on destroying Sylva’s main artery of commerce. That will mortally wound Sylva and greatly reduce the life-giving revenue for Jackson County as well.

Why? For a bike lane? For a median buffer? None of these help traffic flow better. And, wasn’t better traffic flow the original goal?

The proposed changes for Sylva’s Main Street (N.C. 107) must be put on a ballot so citizens can give it an up-or-down vote before the dagger is plunged into Sylva’s main artery of commerce.

Mary Joyce,



Hoping Trump wins, GOP makes significant gains


To the Editor:

In response to “Death of democracy,” Aug.1 Letters: It is my hope that, God willing, Trump will be re-elected, and also that conservative Republicans will make record gains in political offices at all levels. 

Contrary to what corporate raider Tom Steyer has alleged, our government does work for the people. It has done so in a wonderful manner for over 200 years. Our Founding Fathers never intended for our country to have a direct democracy. Rather, it is a constitutional federal democratic republic.

How did Steyer achieve the financial status of billionaire? Illegal stock market insider trading is the accusation. Investigators and prosecutors could never secure enough evidence to charge Steyer in court.

Bob Morris,



Why is bar so much lower for Trump?


To the Editor:

President Donald Trump claims he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. Maybe his bones are not racist, but his mind and his mouth certainly are.

Puerto Rican citizens recently ousted their governor because of his bigoted and hateful e-mails. If you or I had said even a fraction of the bigoted and hateful things Trump has said, we would have been fired. Why is the bar for Trump always set so much lower even though he occupies the highest office in the country?

Trump should be held accountable for his racism just as we hold others accountable for theirs. Mr. President, it is long past time for the United States to say, “You’re fired!”

Lisa Bacon,