For Landowners & Residents
Overall SLAM Goals
by Steve Katovich, USDA Forest Service
SLAM refers to a management strategy that is targeted at the emerald ash borer (EAB). SLAM stands for SL.ow A.sh M.ortality, and as the name implies, it is an effort to slow down and delay the invasion process of this very serious pest of ash trees. The goals of a SLAM project are to:
- Slow the onset and progression of widespread tree mortality in an area where EAB has been recently introduced, and
- Reduce the rate at which EAB populations grow or spread, or both.
SLAM is a delaying tactic, and if the strategy works it should provide landowners with a few additional years before local ash tree mortality becomes widespread. It should benefit areas that do not yet have EAB by preventing the development of large, rapidly expanding EAB population centers in the Moran-St. Ignace and Houghton locations. Further, it should provide researchers and forest managers more time to learn the intricacies of EAB and perhaps allow them to find ways to limit EAB’s destructive potential.
The SLAM strategy is not complicated. Management tactics revolve around reducing the number of EAB that are produced in an area. When EAB first arrives in an area, there are likely only a few individuals. They may arrive in a few pieces of firewood or a single infested log. It can take a number of years for that small initial population to expand into a large population capable of killing many trees. The SLAM strategy attempts to use some rather simple tactics, such as insecticide-injection treatments and clusters of trap trees to keep EAB populations at lower levels. If these tactics or treatments can be done in a coordinated effort across numerous properties, they should result in smaller EAB populations that spread more slowly and kill ash trees at a much slower rate than if nothing was done to slow them.
Unfortunately, even with a successful SLAM approach, EAB will still kill the vast majority of ash trees in an area, but local landowners and land managers should have some additional time to react to EAB.
Eradication or the complete elimination of EAB from a local area has been attempted, and those efforts were very expensive and were not very successful. It is extremely difficult to completely eradicate EAB from even a small localized area. Again, SLAM is not an eradication strategy.
The components of a SLAM project include (1) surveys to determine where EAB is located; (2) surveys to assess ash tree abundance and distribution; (3) EAB suppression activities, basically tactics or treatments used to kill EAB; (4) regulatory measures; and (5) public information and outreach.
Each component plays an important role in the overall strategy, but the tactics and treatments used to kill and suppress local EAB populations are vital. Surveys and inventories, along with regulatory and outreach activities, must be combined with some type of active suppression of EAB to have a significant impact on EAB populations and ash tree mortality.
Under SLAM, suppression activities are combined and integrated. Such activities may include:
- systemic insecticides to kill EAB adults and larvae;
- prompt removal of infested ash trees before EAB adults can emerge;
- attracting or concentrating EAB into girdled trees (trap tree) that are subsequently destroyed before the next generation of adults can emerge;
- harvesting and utilizing ash trees which reduces the amount of phloem (food) available for EAB development.