Drones fly over Boulder to advance early emerald ash borer detection

Team flies 'birds' at three locations in test of technology's effectiveness

By Charlie Brennan
Staff Writer

POSTED:   07/13/2017 06:42:31 PM MDT

Drones may be a key tool to the future of battling emerald ash borer and other blights that can impact the urban forest, and that buzzing some might have heard in southeast Boulder on Thursday was the sound of a team setting out to prove just that.

From three separate locations south of Baseline Road and east of Foothills Parkway, a group of scientists and researchers sent drones as high as 335 feet over areas including ash trees showing varying levels of damage from the emerald ash borer, a invasive green jewel beetle that feeds on the ash tree species.

"What we're really interested in is early detection," said Dan Staley, principal of Arbor Drone, a consulting firm based in Aurora specializing in aerial urban forestry. "The very first indicators of emerald ash borer is what we're trying to show."

The squad taking to the streets of Boulder included Staley; his 14-year-old daughter (and "mapper"), Payne Jungblut; Loren Anderson and Tim Haynie, chief of operations and CEO and founder, respectively, of Colorado Springs-based Spectrabotics, a data analytics firm; and Darren Ceckanowicz, technical director for the environmental program at Colorado College.

READ MORE at the Boulder Daily Camera...