The Last Stand

The Last Stand

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Suzanne Greenlaw, such as chain. She moves quickly through the head-high-ostrich-fern, ruffled leaves with heavy rain, as the orange stutters saw and then chokes. “She gets all freaked out,” says Gabriel Frey, laughing as he rips the cord, again, with a muscled arm, the saw whirring to life. You set the bar to cut a tribe of shaggy, gray-colored bark, he starts the grinding noise of the saw echoing through the damp, green-lit are.

The felled tree is one of the three, the Frey and Greenlaw carefully picked from the forest on the cool, damp day in July in Northern Maine. A lot of logs dragged from the forest, in Aroostook County, which is home to a piece of the North Maine Woods, a 3.5 million-acre-area of commercial timberland. But Frey and Greenlaw, and to the stand of gray-barked trees are part of a tradition that is far older than any of the wood-camp or sawmill. The trees are Fraxinus nigra, known as black ash, or brownh, have always been at the heart of life in Maine, it is the indigenous tribes.

Greenlaw, a Maliseet forestry scientist and is working on her doctoral thesis at the University of Maine, at the forefront of efforts to protect the state’s brown ash. The trees are in danger of being wiped out by the emerald ash borer, an invasive species that has been killing ash trees in North America for the better part of 20 years. With the help of Frey, a renowned Passamaquoddy basket makers, and the wider Wabanaki basketry community, the couple

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First struck with the back of the axe into the rails, then carefully shaved and cut into strips, brown ash, the primary material used for weaving baskets among the Wabanaki tribes that live on land today in Maine and Canada’s Maritime provinces. To woven from the utilitarian backpack-like basket made of plain-woven ash more elaborate and decorated “fancy” chairs, there is an extensive tradition of basketry, which is shared by the five Wabanaki tribes (four of which are federally recognized in Maine: Micmac, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot). The importance of these baskets in the whole of the tribes, the stories of the tree, making Darren Ranco calls for a cultural keystone species. “It is very Central to the culture,” says Ranco, a professor of anthropology at the University of Maine and a member of the Penobscot Indian Nation.

Wabanaki origin stories tell of the mythical hero Glooscap shoot an arrow into a brown ash tree and the Wabanaki people pour into the world out of the hole in the stem. More recently, according to the Wabanaki tribes were forced from their land, which was under the European colonization, basket making is a means for economic independence and the resistance against assimilation. Until about the 1960s, the potato-farming and fisheries industry with an extensive need for the baskets had to be used, harvesting and processing, and “fancy” baskets were sold to wealthy tourists in the summer, in places like Bar Harbor and Kennebunkport. At the beginning of the 20th century, it’s a full-time basket makers in almost every Penobscot and Passamaquoddy budget, and the craft was handed down through the family, assists in maintaining both native language and family structures. How Ranco says, “there are many species that have all of these impact on the culture.”

It is a tradition, but that will soon change forever — and may be deleted in total — as the invasive ash borer arrives in Maine, continued its destructive spread over thirty States in the Midwest and northeast, as well as the adjacent parts of southern Canada.

originally from Northern Asia and Eastern Russia, the small, jewel-like borer was first documented in Michigan in 2002, and probably a ride on wooden base for shipping material arrived a few years earlier after hitching. The beetles lay their eggs on the bark of ash trees, where, after hatching, the larvae work their way pierced to the root, chewing loop donels through the forest, before you dig from chambers, where they Mature into their adult form. Then, the adult borers in your way chew is back from the trunk, so that the host-tree with thread damage channels. Forest Service research led in the middle West of the USA has determined that a borer infestation may be effective in an otherwise healthy stand of ash in less than six years to extinguish. The borer already has tens of millions of ash trees killed on a trail in the United States and southern Canada, and threatens to destroy you, as many as 9 billion euros, how to spread it more — far more than the 4 billion American chestnut trees were decimated by the blight in the early 20th century, significantly remaking the ecology of the Eastern forests

Earlier this year, ash borers have been found in the vicinity of Madawaska, Maine, less than 100 miles away from the stand, where Frey harvested trees.


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Despite its overwhelming cultural importance to the Wabanaki tribes, brown ash, a common tree in Maine, and not the same economic value in the timber industry, as the white ash, which is used in the manufacture, baseball bat, axe, economic, and other tool handles, and furniture and as firewood. Ash species comprise about 5 percent of Maine hardwood forest, a total of 2 percent or less, brown ash; only about a fifth of the trees are suitable for the manufacture of baskets. With the forest cover in Maine to return to pre-to-settlement levels (90 percent forest, it is the most forested state in the U.S.) the view of the search for brown ash among the oak trees, maples, birches, spruces, cedars, pines and other trees can be a challenge. But when it comes to a kind of concerted effort for the protection of the culturally and economically important to the brown ash, the locations of the trees must be known, in the first place. Greenlaw is the development of a tool that can help forest managers to do just that.

As she walks through the ferns along the river, dressed in a light, Navy blue, raincoat and heavy rubber boots, Greenlaw explains how this state-of-the-brown ash, and others like it inform geographic information systems (GIS) map that is in development. “I was in a study at four sites and have a lot of measurements: vegetation, roof, floor, and whatever,” she says, to define, to try — in the Western science of the habitat, the results in in basket-quality ash. They found that only one factor, soil type, was statistically significant. Brown ash grows commonly in swamps, but these trees tend to yield wood that is unsuitable for weaving. The well drained soils of the floodplain result are more likely to be in the trees, which are good for basketry: smooth, supple, and relatively free of knots. Is a fact that while Greenlaw confirmed by research, was already well understood-through the ashes of harvesters and weavers. That is why it contains much more data than just the earth, enter into the tool the building. “I don’t use only what is statistically significant in my model. I don’t think that is appropriate,” says Greenlaw.

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“It involves a combination of Western science and science of forestry with native forest-science. It is not only in search of the highest tree or find most of the trees in a certain place,” says Ranco, who sits on Greenlaw for his dissertation with the Committee, and is part of the ash Task Force, a group of scientists working out of natural resources-Manager, basket makers, and forestry, to combat the borer. “When we say, ” basket-quality ash’, that is a very special thing for the basket making community,” Ranco says. In addition to the tree itself is relatively simple, the fibres in each growth ring must, as a rule, smooth and straight, the yield strips for weaving.

Greenlaw takes many different factors into consideration to develop as she works to understand the Western science where ash-trees grow. It is well understood, under ash, a Harvester, a tree will be brittle, if it grows also in the vicinity of the cedar, for example, has a layer on their GIS map for hardwood companion species, so as to avoid that the Association at the landscape level. Superimposed on Landsat satellite images of deciduous and mixed-deciduous forests of Maine, Greenlaw can find places where these different factors — soil type, distance to a river, stand age, and flow accumulation (the kind that water runs downhill) — all overlap, and points to possible locations of basket-quality trees. The tool is refined, is always more efficient, but it is ash habitat not only helps the user compared to the ideal, not the actual ash. Once Greenlaw walked in the forest in search of a new ash, and found nothing, but red maple.

It is a trial-and-error process, because that is the nature of the research, but also because there is not much in the scientific literature. “There’s not a whole lot of research for native materials to culture. We need to start from the beginning,” says Greenlaw. “It is not so, as you can go, to the Forest Service and say, ‘Can you know me a tool for this kind of culture?'”

There are no known areas of brown ash on the Penobscot country as the stand Greenlaw and Frey visited, at least according to Russ Roy, forest manager for the Penobscot Nation. “If you can stand there and see ten good dates, this is a pretty nice spot,” he says. Currently, the trunk of the Forester met with brown ash, mostly by accident. “We’ll find them, if we mark a stop line for a harvest” of the other wood, he says, “and we make a note of them.” But, with 100,000 acres in the tribe’s trust land, he would like to be more targeted in the search for ash. “What floors we are looking at, topography, riparian zones,” Roy asks, “where should we look for, in addition to those we already see you?”

where the stock is still guarded in the basket making community. Harvesting machines are protective of ash, and there are concerns within the basket making community, Greenlaw Association efforts, make them public and closely-held locations of trees, on which they are based. Because of these sensitivities, calls that The Verge is not the name of the river, to give you specific details about the location of the ash, or view the detailed maps that you are working with.

Greenlaw hopes that their tool will be the search for the brown ash stands for the people in to the community. The hope is that the tool helps the Penobscot and other tribal forestry departments, an inventory of ashes is still ongoing efforts to bank seeds from basket-quality trees, as well as build, so that more direct interventions can be implemented if and when the borers come. With more than 300,000 acres of tribal land in Maine, it could very well be brown ash is unknown for both harvesters and natural resource Manager. Greenlaw wants to forests, the tribes — as well as private forestry companies, land trusts, and the Manager of the federal countries, such as the Katahdin and know waters a National Monument — where you brown ash, so that they can make informed decisions when the time comes.

Goes back to 2002, the primary attempt to control the borer’s spread, selective harvesting: dense stands of ash are thinned out, with the hope that the drill will not spread between the isolated trees means. This has not proved to be true. Individual ash can also girded be, a so-called trap tree: the bark is removed all the way around the trunk, drawing borers in the vicinity with the promise of exposed sapwood. The tree is then cut, and burned, while the borers are overwintering in the interior.

Other control options for the introduction of a type of parasitic wasp, originally from the ash borer’s historic area, this could have unintended consequences belongs to. A further possibility is the targeted use of insecticides in the high-value trees or stands.

“ If you have an area of good quality brown ash, it would make sense to inject it [with insecticides], these trees go? I don’t think anyone has come to a definite answer that,” Roy says. “It is a possible option. I don’t know if we’ve gotten to the point where we can say, it is the option.”


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If the emerald ash borer has been found in far Northern Maine, it came as a surprise. The bug must have a clear line of ash trees to get from point A to point B, and it was expected that the borer would be the first train in southern Maine (where it is now documented), which have already infested parts of New Hampshire. In spite of the laws against firewood from out of state, and various public awareness campaigns focusing on the don’t move firewood over long distances within Maine’s borders, It is thought that a cord of ash, driven to the top camp from some infested area in the South brought the error to Aroostook County. Isolated are now trying to in the two Northern and southern Maine to slow the ash borer’s spread, but the insect was recently documented in Portland as well. It is only a matter of time before it spreads throughout the state. With the inevitability of emerald ash borers, some in the basket making community, are more focused, to prepare for a future without brown ash.

“I harvest twice, and what I’m going to use,” says Jeremy Frey, Gabriel’s brother, who was the first basket maker always best in show win at the prestigious Santa Fe Indian market. “I do this because I don’t know that we can stop them.” Jeremy believes that brown ash tree will be gone in 15 years, and he hopes that he would have hoarded as much as a decade worth of material from that time.

“is It gone for thousands of years the native technology — gone,” Jeremy is the threat says. The views, everything to lose that brown ash provides, makes him angry and depressed, even if he knows that you as an individual artist, he continues his work with one material or another.

A recent exhibition at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine, the Wabanaki arts, highlighted ash conservation efforts and alternative materials, basket weavers need to be explored. The show, the curate helped in Ranco, featured baskets made with felted wool, silk, newspaper, and plastic.

Jeremy showed work at the Santa Fe gallery during Indian market this summer, where he made and sold a piece, half ash and half with birch bark — a style, he says, should be an introduction, the collector on a new material that is becoming more and more difficult in his work. “By the time the ash is gone,” he says, “I would like to have two rows: one with ash and one without.”

forest next to the river in Aroostook County are interspersed with the slowly decaying tops of felled trees, previously harvested for basket making. Above about the eight-metre mark, where the root of an immature brown ash opens in the crown, the wood is too knotty for basket making. It is the kind of deep-rooted practice, that looks strange, if not wasteful to outsiders, but is part of the indigenous knowledge base, has helped to maintain the stand for generations.

“you will see all of you here. You will see how Mature ash, younger ash,” Gabriel says, show trees of different thickness. “I’ll check,” he says, broaching a promising-looking trunk with two, sharp has made something of a hatchet, the small wedge of wood the annual rings revealed inside. The bone-white stripes, the uses of Gabriel, to its refined, leather-accented pack baskets each for a year’s worth of growth. “My history with this tripod is that it is really thick rings, in General,” says he, and pointed to the width of the hatchet’s edge.

to make

Gabriel — baskets, started taught make his grandfather, a carpenter, him to—,, a similar level of recognition to Jeremy. This year, he was picked up as a USA artist Fe fellow in the traditional arts, which comes with a $50,000 prize, and he also acquired the second volume in the basketry category in Santa. Although he is a therapist, nor a day’s work, as a massage, his career as an artist is ascending, even as the ash borer threatens.

“He sees himself as the carrier of culture, of his grandfather, baskets,” Jeremy says of his brother at work. “He

Watched him examine, notch, and fell the trees, he wears then out of the forest and over a steep, muddy embankment on his shoulder, it is easy to understand why Gabriel, basket making, and brown ash are inextricably linked. The baskets are not only a mirror image, the brown ash and its unique features, but from the places where it grows, and the culture that developed both of brown ash, and is determined to protect you. Frey feels he can’t weave without it.

Greenlaw recently won a $10.000 grant from the Forest Service (with cost sharing by the Bureau of Indian Affairs) to your model on tribal land over Maine. She works with natural resource managers, the cut of the trunks, basket making, and harvester communities (all the basket makers and the process of its own ashes, like the Frey-do brothers), as well as Wabanaki high school students.

First, Greenlaw will lead you to your model and see what it finds against the competence of the community, know where the ash is harvested. After the cross-referencing of scientific data with local knowledge and always the best feeling can be found of the basket-quality trees, it is time to go to the forest to inventory trees with the help of the local students.

Then, when the time comes, it is up to the tribes, to how to protect the trees. You will be able to make informed decisions if provided with a better understanding of how much the basket-quality ash, which you have, as well as resources such as a field-manual for ash inventory and protection, developed by Tyler Everett, a master’s degree candidate at the University of Maine.

“If the Forester does not say, ‘We have a whole lot of brown ash in I have a lot of stock put in that, because they are not in areas where brown ash grows,” says Greenlaw. High quality types of wood are habitats typically found in upland, away from the floodplains, and moving water, where the basket-trees thrive. Basket weavers, Greenlaw says, “don ‘ T use to get a whole lot of materials, what we need. It’s not like we can clear out a whole. Once you know where you stand, you can cut it a year and then come back in a couple of years ago, and cut it again.” It is not one and done.

All ash tree in Maine can not be saved by the borer. Instead, Greenlaw is trying to basket give trees a chance to survive — so that basket weavers can continue to come back to places like the banks of the river, which we visited, and cut it again.

Released on Mon, 25 Nov 2019 14:04:50 +0000

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