Backcountry borer infestation found in Smokies

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) -- There is fresh evidence of emerald ash borers in the Smokies and indications that the infestation has been there for a while.

A Great Smoky Mountains National Park news release Wednesday stated a park employee discovered the backcountry infestation on a trail in the Greenbrier area on November 8. The staffer saw bark chips piled at the base of several ash trees -- an indicator of the pest's presence.

A U.S. Forest Service biologist has since confirmed the infestation and said the colony is at least two years old.

The borer was first confirmed to be in the park in June.

Since first found in southeast Michigan in 2002, it has spread to 16 states and two Canadian provinces killing tens of millions of ash trees.

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