A warmer climate
is inhospitable to ash trees but not to their enemy--the ash borer
come from all over the world, but the ash bats they wield have come from the
same northeastern U.S. forests for generations. A cool climate and rocky soil
have long made the area from eastern Pennsylvania to the Adirondack region of
New York a geographical sweet spot for splendid splinters.
Now, however, a
warmer climate threatens the quality of the ash, and of equal concern is the
arrival of a tiny beetle, the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis). The ash
borer snips the tubes that carry nutrients through the prized trees. The U.S.
Department of Agriculture is so concerned that it's collecting ash DNA should
the tree be wiped out.
have been keeping an eye on the bug too. Until recently the ash borer, which
probably hitched a boat ride from Asia to the U.S. in the 1990s, had moved
state by state through the Midwest. But last August trees in Maryland started
showing the telltale D-shaped holes made by the insect. The ash borer matures
faster in warmer conditions, and according to Columbia University entomologist
James Danoff-Burg, climate change will hasten the pest's spread.
baseball players have switched to maple bats for their rigid feel, but for
hitters who want a thin handle and a big barrel, "[ash] just makes for a
better tool," says Ron Vander Groef, manager of Rawlings' Adirondack bat
factory. The only way to save a forest from the ash borer, Danoff-Burg says, is
to "keep it from getting there in the first place." It may be too late
With less snow
falling and warmer temperatures making artificial snow an expensive
alternative, World Cup races are being canceled and ski resorts from the Alps
to the Poconos are suffering
JULIA MANCUSO has
been skiing since she was two, winning an Olympic gold medal last year in Turin
when she was 21. Yet on Jan. 6, at the U.S. Women's Ski Team base in Kirchberg,
Austria, Mancuso did something on a slope that she had never done--drive a car
up one. "The hill was green," says Mancuso. "We were training on
just a strip of snow." The team could not practice the giant slalom because
the 20-foot-wide swath of white was too narrow to place the gates.
Two weeks later,
at nearby Kitzb�hel, more than 100,000 cubic feet of snow had to be hauled by
helicopter, at a cost of $389,000, and dumped on verdant slopes so the
world-famous Hahnenkamm downhill could be held. Skiers are hoping that this
season--with its eight canceled World Cup events through Sunday--is an anomaly,
but it is more likely a taste of Alpine winters to come.