The Bat that Made the Adirondacks Famous May Soon Be a Thing of the Past
The baseball bat that made the Adirondacks famous is under threat, and not just from aluminum or maple. Rawlings manufactures more than 10,000 Adirondack bats every year at a plant in the upstate town of Dolgeville. Made from northern white ash, it was the bat used by Bobby Thompson to win the 1951 pennant for the New York Giants and the bat of choice of Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Darryl Strawberry and their successors. But in the past few years, an invasive pest known as the Emerald Ash Borer has swept through the hardwood belt of the Southern Tier, the Catskills and the lower Adirondacks where the northern white ash dominates, and that spells doom for the Adirondack bat. For that reason alone, we should take Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week seriously.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation declared May 22 through May 28 EAB Awareness Week to encourage people to become better educated about the emerald ash borer and the destruction it causes to trees. In observance of EAB Awareness Week, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued a proclamation urging all New Yorkers to exercise environmental stewardship to protect trees from infestation that can be devastating to landscapes, habitats and forest product industries. The Lake George Association has offered its assistance, urging residents and visitors to be alert to signs of infestation (which include 1/8″ diameter shaped holes in the bark; tree canopy dieback; and serpentine galleries, often with larvae, just under the bark) and to report any signs by calling 866-640-0652. The EAB is typically transported to new areas through firewood, so campers are urged to buy their fire wood locally. Of course, there are reasons other than a concern for the baseball bat to resist the spread of EAB. As the LGA’s Kristen Rohne notes, “There are approximately 800,000 ash trees in the Lake George watershed. We don’t want to find out what would happen to our watershed and our water quality without these trees.” By protecting the ash, we protect water quality, since, as the LGA says, the ash, like every other tree, absorbs and slows the rush of rain water, shades streams and filters contaminants. Life for many would be diminished without the sound of ash smacking a fast ball. Life on Lake George without its 800,000 ash trees would be even worse.