• Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the national park.

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

There are park alerts in effect.
hide Alerts »
  • Trail Advisory

    Several trails in the park are temporarily closed. Please check the "Backcountry Facilities" section of the Temporary Road and Facilities Closures page for further details. More »

Emerald Ash Borer Confirmed in Park

Emerald Ash Borer. Photo by David Cappaert
Photo by David Cappaert, Michigan State University

Subscribe RSS Icon | What is RSS
News Release Date: June 7, 2012
Contact: Public Affairs Office, (865) 436-1203

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials recently confirmed the presence of
invasive emerald ash borer beetles in the park. Last week, beetles were discovered near Sugarlands Visitor Center and in the Greebrier area, on the Tennessee side of the park. The insects were recovered during routine inspection of traps and sent to a U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist for confirmation.

The emerald ash borer was first discovered in the U.S. in Michigan in 2002 and has steadily spread from there, damaging millions of ash trees across the country. The ½ inch-long beetle lays eggs in bark crevices on all species of ash. Upon hatching, larvae burrow under the bark, creating feeding tunnels that interfere with the tree's ability to translocate nutrients and fluids. The tree gradually starves and eventually dies.

The park began trapping the beetles in 2008 as part of a broader effort coordinated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Under APHIS guidance, traps were placed in a 100-mile-wide band outside the previously known infested area. At the time, the park was considered to be at high risk for new infestation because of the sizable number of visitors who reside in already infested counties.

The spread of emerald ash borer beetles primarily results from transport of infested logs and firewood. A park-wide ban remains in effect for any firewood originating from a location for which a federal or state quarantine is in effect. A list of all quarantined areas may be found at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/quarantine-counties.htm.

Park management is evaluating a range of options in regard to addressing the emerald ash borer's presence in the park. "Protecting the park's biodiversity is of the utmost importance," says Superintendent Dale Ditmanson." We will carefully consider all options available to us before determining the best course of action in dealing with this invasive species."

Did You Know?

An experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park was begun in 2001.

An experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park was begun in 2001. Elk once roamed the Smokies, but were eliminated from the region in the mid 1800s by over-hunting and loss of habitat. Other animals successfully reintroduced to the park include river otters and barn owls. More...