Emerald ash borer continues to threaten Delaware trees

DOVER, Del. — Emerald ash borer (EAB), a destructive insect from Asia that attacks and kills ash trees, has been confirmed in Newark, Delaware. Originally found in northern Delaware in 2016, recent infestations were confirmed in both Middletown and Seaford in November 2018.

Current guidelines recommend the removal or treatment of ash trees if located within 15 miles of a known infestation. Since Delaware is geographically small and EAB can go undetected for years, residents are urged to educate themselves now and take action.

Delaware Department of Agriculture recommends that property owners within a 5 to 15 mile radius of a positive EAB detection treat the trees they want to keep. Tree removal is strongly suggested so homeowners can protect their property and help limit the spread of this insect. For the latest information from the Delaware Department of Agriculture, residents can go to de.gov/ashtrees for an EAB Fact Sheet and an Ash Treatment Decision Guide.

Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) has been confirmed in 35 states, the District of Columbia, and five Canadian provinces. The USDA’s Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service estimates that the insect has killed millions of ash trees, caused agencies to implement extensive federal quarantines, and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to municipalities, homeowners, nursery operators and forest product industries. For a comprehensive history and overview of EAB, read the Emerald Ash Borer Story Map.

The Emerald ash borer has had a devastating effect on ash trees (Fraxinus spp.) in both rural and urban areas in the United States. A hardwood tree, ash has traditionally been used for making baseball bats. Its high heat value also makes it ideal for firewood. Due to the danger of spreading invasive pests like EAB, USDA developed the “Hungry Pests” campaign urging people to curtail human-assisted spread and to help reduce the risks to the state’s forests and landscapes.

Ash is identifiable by its compound leaf with 5 to 9 leaflets arranged opposite each other. Ash trees are also one of the trees (along with maple, dogwood, and horse-chestnut) that feature an opposite branching pattern. Symptoms of an EAB infestation can be difficult to notice at first, but usually include: canopy dieback, epicormic sprouting, bark splits, woodpecker damage, and D-shaped exit holes on the bark. Adult beetles feed on ash leaves but actually cause little damage. The larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients, typically killing the tree within a few years.

The Delaware Forest Service estimates that ash comprises two percent of the total tree species in the state; however, some communities near urban areas have a higher percentage of ash and could be more adversely impacted.


Media Contact: Stacey Hofmann, (302) 698-4542, Stacey.Hofmann@delaware.gov

Southern Delaware School of the Arts student wins Arbor Day Poster Contest

Amelia Meyer, a fifth-grader at the Southern Delaware School of the Arts in Selbyville, won the Delaware Forest Service’s 2018 Arbor Day School Poster Contest, beating entries from more than 3,200 students in 43 classes. “Trees Are Terrific…and Perfect for Pollinators!” was the theme chosen to highlight the important role of trees in the health of pollinators such as bees and butterflies. The annual contest is open to grade K to 5 students in all Delaware public, private, charter, and home schools. Winners were selected from each county in the following grades: K, 1-2, 3-4, and 5. Posters were evaluated on originality, use of theme, neatness, and artistic expression.

View the complete 2018 Arbor Day School Poster Contest winners (with links to high-resolution images).

Amelia Meyer, a fifth-grader at Southern Delaware School of the Arts in Selbyville, is the winner of the Delaware Forest Service’s annual Arbor Day School Poster Contest. This year’s theme was “Trees are Terrific… and Perfect for Pollinators!”


2018 Arbor Day Poster Contest Winners

New Castle County Winners

Kindergarten – Jade Munoz-Martinez – Academia Antonia Alonso, Wilmington
Grades 1-2 – Makalani Collins – Jennie Smith Elementary, New Castle
Grades 3-4 – Madison Butts – Heritage Elementary, Wilmington
Grade 5 – Chase Puszkarczuk – Heritage Elementary, Wilmington

Kent County Winners

Kindergarten – Audriana Friday – Mcilvaine Early Childhood Center, Magnolia
Grades 1-2 – MaKenna Barclay – Nellie Stokes Elementary, Dover
Grades 3-4 – Gianni Coblentz – Hartly Elementary, Hartly
Grade 5 – Jacob Simons – WB Simpson Elementary, Wyoming

Sussex County Winners

Kindergarten – Michael Foracre – Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary, Laurel
Grades 1-2 – Yojana Garcia-Lopez – Mispillion Elementary, Milford
Grades 3-4 – Samantha Geidel – Southern Delaware School of the Arts, Selbyville
Grade 5 – Amelia Meyer – Southern Delaware School of the Arts, Selbyville

Winners will receive their awards from Delaware Governor John Carney at the Delaware Forest Service’s Arbor Day Ceremony in Dover on May 4, 2018. Each winner receives a tree-themed book and a print reproduction of their poster on fine art canvas. Thanks to corporate sponsor Delmarva Power, a free tree planting ceremony will also be held at each winner’s school. In addition, every participating classroom receives free pine seedlings for all participants. Once again this year, students from the Middletown High School FFA Chapter and senior volunteers from the Modern Maturity Center in Dover are wrapping thousands of seedlings to distribute to schoolchildren statewide.

Check out the previous year’s winners:

For more information, email: Ashley Melvin, Delaware Forest Service Education Coordinator

New online tool to assess community tree canopy in Delaware

DOVER, Del. – The Delaware Forest Service (DFS) has unveiled a new online tool that uses geographic information systems (GIS) software to help cities, towns, and neighborhoods to measure and increase their community tree canopy percentage. The link is: de.gov/treecanopy

Developed by the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s GIS specialist Jimmy Kroon, the tool covers the entire First State: municipalities, homeowner associations, and neighborhoods can assess their current level of tree cover as a starting point to explore opportunities to plant new trees or maintain their existing ones.

This maps shows the Rodney Village subdivision near U.S. 13 in South Dover. A new GIS tool from the Department of Agriculture's Forest Service shows that the community has a current tree canopy level of 31.2 percent.
This maps shows the Rodney Village subdivision near U.S. 13 in South Dover. A new GIS tool from the Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service shows that it has 29.8 of its 95.3 acres covered by trees, for a total tree canopy level of 31.2 percent.

Tree canopy is important because trees provide numerous natural benefits for air and water quality, lower heating and cooling costs, a reduction in harmful UV radiation, as well as other environmental and social benefits. In particular, trees mitigate the soil erosion and stream pollution caused by impervious surfaces and storm water run-off in urban areas. Studies show that trees can improve property values and provide scenic beauty, reduce summer peak temperatures, and even improve social ties among neighbors, factors that can help a community attract businesses and residents.  One study found a 10% increase in tree cover was linked to a 12% decrease in crime .

Tree planting at State Street Park in the Town of Delmar.
Tree planting at State Street Park in the Town of Delmar.

Urban tree canopy (UTC) assessment is used to help decision-makers understand their urban forest resources, particularly how much tree canopy currently exists and the amount that could exist.  This enables citizens and public officials to identify “plantable space” to locate trees. The UTC assessment protocols have been applied to dozens of counties, cities, and towns in the United States and Canada. The assessments help inform UTC goals, prioritize tree planting locations, establish urban forestry master plans, and justify spending and potential return on investment (ROI) for urban forestry programs.

From left, Delaware Forest Service urban forester Dionne Duphily and forest health associate Hannah Small worked on a hazard tree assessment in the Town of Odessa. The DFS has developed a new online GIS tool to help communities measure their tree canopy and develop strategies to maintain and increase it through grants and technical assistance.


In Delaware, state forestry staff work with cities, towns, and communities to increase tree canopy through urban grants and technical assistance. Once the baseline of tree canopy has been established, urban foresters can help communities set goals to increase their percentage. According to Kesha Braunskill, Delaware Forest Service’s urban and community forestry program director, the following municipalities have adopted formal resolutions to increase and/or maintain their tree canopy:

  • Arden
  • Ardentown
  • Blades
  • City of New Castle
  • Delaware City
  • Delmar
  • Georgetown
  • Greenwood
  • Henlopen Acres
  • Laurel
  • Lewes
  • Millville
  • Newark
  • Rehoboth
  • Smyrna
  • Wilmington

“We hope this new online tool will help people focus on the many benefits of trees as well as the need to increase tree canopy statewide,” said Braunskill. “We can magnify the numerous benefits of our urban forests by simply planting more trees in our communities and developments.”

The Delaware Forest Service’s goal to keep and increase existing canopy is balanced against a concern that some people are taking out trees unnecessarily. In general, tree removals should be considered when the tree poses a hazard or a risk assessment shows a “safety” or “tree health” issue. In addition to asking the Delaware Forest Service for help, those with concerns are also advised to only consult companies with arborists certified by the International Society for Arboriculture (ISA). Because trees are so beneficial, the advice is generally if you “remove a tree” then “replace a tree.”

As part of the Delaware Forest Service’s annual tree grant process, applicants who seek funding for tree removals must provide for the tree’s replacement, a requirement also adopted by ordinances in Rehoboth, Lewes, and Wilmington. Similarly, every municipality that applies for an urban and community grant must also have a tree canopy goal.

There are currently tree canopy maps in PDF form for all 57 incorporated municipalities, but the new GIS tool allows those outside municipal boundaries to also be aware of the benefits of keeping and increasing their tree cover. Even homeowner associations can set goals: Tavistock in New Castle County, for example, has adopted a tree canopy resolution. The Delaware Forest Service offers technical assistance on tree planting, lists of recommended trees, site evaluation, tree ordinance, and setting tree canopy goals. The agency also sponsors a website, delawaretrees.com, where residents can learn about the work of  the urban and community forestry program and even read a “Tree Owner’s Manual” to learn about how to select, plant, and care for a new tree.

For more information, contact Kesha Braunskill at kesha.braunskill@delaware.gov

Arbor Day school poster contest for grades K to 5


Acorn to Oak2
“Trees are Terrific… from Acorn to Oak!” is the theme of the Delaware Forest Service’s annual poster contest for grades K to 5. Entry deadline is March 15 with posters due by March 31.

DOVER – The Delaware Forest Service is seeking entries for its annual Arbor Day Poster Contest, open to students in grades K to 5 from all public, private, homeschool, afterschool, and other organized youth groups. Winning posters will be selected from each of the three counties in the following grade categories: Kindergarten, Grades 1 and 2, Grades 3 and 4, and Grade 5. The twelve winners will be recognized at the annual Statewide Arbor Day Celebration hosted by Governor Carney in Dover. A tree planting ceremony will be scheduled at each winner’s school and the teacher receives a $50 gift card for classroom supplies.  The deadline to register is March 15 with poster submissions due by March 31.

This year’s theme is “Trees Are Terrific…from Acorn to Oak!” – designed to increase knowledge about the importance and diversity of the oak tree as well as introduce students to the process of tree identification. Throughout the history of the United States, oaks have offered shelter, beauty, valuable wood products, and served as a symbol of strength. Through basic classification skills, students will recognize unique characteristics that separate oaks from other trees.

All participating classes will receive free loblolly pine seedlings delivered to their school, just in time to celebrate Arbor Day! Studying Delaware’s forests can help supplement K-5 science units and is a perfect opportunity to localize classroom lessons. The 2017 “Acorn to Oak” Activity Guide (PDF) is available for teachers to use in their curriculum.

To register for the contest and reserve free seedlings, teachers and administrators can click here: https://2017arbordaycontest.eventbrite.com

Program Contact:
Ashley Peebles
Delaware Forest Service
2320 S. DuPont Highway
Dover, DE 19901

The following are links for resources, rules and guidelines:

Important dates:

  • Deadline to register and reserve free seedlings: March 15
  • Deadline to submit posters for state contest: March 31
  • Arbor Day in Delaware: April 28
  • Seedling delivery: early April

Check out the previous year’s winners:

Apply Now for Urban and Community Forestry Grants

Municipalities, community associations, and non-profits in Delaware can now apply for urban and community forestry grants up to $5,000 from the Delaware Forest Service for a tree planting or tree management project. The deadline to apply is March 4, 2016. There are also Chesapeake Bay Tree Planting Grants available for applicants with land located in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Laurel_Five Points Park Planting
Delaware Forest Service staffers (from left) James Dowd and Francis Cole used an auger to help prepare an area of Five Points Park in Laurel, Sussex County for the planting of 16 trees funded by a $3,120 urban and community forestry grant. The grant was part of $15,800 awarded to fund projects in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Through a federal grant, the Delaware Forest Service offers up to $50,000 each year to communities throughout the state for tree planting, tree care, and tree management projects on publicly owned lands. The applicant must match these grants on a 50-50 basis either non-federal funds or in-kind services (volunteer time, staff time, etc.) within program guidelines. The Delaware Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program’s grant program is open to all municipalities, community associations, and certified 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations within the State of Delaware.

Grants range from a minimum of $500 to a maximum of $5,000 in one of two project categories: tree planting or tree management. Applications are limited to one project in one project category and are judged on a competitive basis by a grant committee of the Delaware Community Forestry Council. Eligible projects must be performed on public lands within the community. Priority is given to first time applicants, Tree Friendly Communities, and applicants that have passed an Urban Tree Canopy Goal Resolution (only applies to Municipalities).

A free workshop to help participants complete the application process will be held on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Delaware Center for Horticulture at 1810 N. DuPont St, Wilmington, DE 19806  Contact: Vikram Krishnamurthy, Phone:(302) 658-6262

Please register by January 15 at http://goo.gl/mBp4Db

Click here for: Prior Urban and Community Grant Winners

Completed applications should be mailed to:

 Delaware Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program
2320 S. DuPont Highway, Dover, DE 19901

Examples of activities eligible for grant funding can include:

  • Tree Planting
  • Hazard Tree Mitigation
  • Development of a Professional Tree Inventory


Funds can only be utilized on public property owned by the municipality, HOA, or nonprofit organization.

2016 Urban and Community Grant Application Materials


  1. Contact Information
  2. Project Description
  3. Qualified Match
  4. Work Summary (Three Bids on Letterhead or Copy of Signed Contract)
  5. Site Map with tree species and locations identified by address
  6. Signature Page

 To be considered for ranking, applications needed to clearly and concisely address the required elements.


All grants are ranked according to the following criteria:

  1. Overall project quality/community need
  2. Project encourages sustainable urban forestry through management planning, proper tree care or sustaining/ maintaining urban tree canopy.
  3. The project mitigates tree hazard(s) – applicable only for management grants
  4. Increases tree canopy – applicable only for planting grants
  5. Applicant has worked with DFS on a project to address DFS state forest strategies
  6. Municipality has an implemented an Urban Tree Canopy Goal Resolution (Municipalities) or is a current Tree Friendly Community

The Delaware Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program is committed to providing a range of technical and informational assistance to residents of communities in the First State.

For more information, contact:
Kesha Braunskill, Delaware Forest Service (DFS) Urban Forestry Administrator
Office: (302) 659-6704 or (302) 698-4578, Kesha.Braunskill@delaware.gov