Tree Notes is about trees -- especially native trees, trees for wildlife, and trees in history.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Carelessness spreads the emerald ash borer

Don't take firewood out of the area where it grew.


We know a fellow who should be well-informed about agricultural matters, from his education, from his affiliations, from on-going training, and from his own professional reading. I believe he knows that firewood should not be taken away from the area where it grew.

I was aghast and outraged when this man mentioned that he had brought a truckload of ash firewood back to Kentucky from a relative's farm in Indiana, over 200 miles away.

Why was I horrified? The firewood could be infected with emerald ash borer (EAB), a killer insect that is destroying the ash trees of North America. In this man's truck, any emerald ash borers present in the firewood made a trip that would have taken them hundreds of years to accomplish on their own weak wings.

At present, Kentucky is believed to be free of the EAB. However, with confirmed infestations in the border states of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia, we are at considerable risk. We don't need anyone to take chances by sneaking in firewood from those states.

"Weren't you worried about spreading the emerald ash borer?" I asked.

"Nope," he replied with the dismissive decisiveness of someone accustomed to being the expert in charge. "I checked it and it was clean."

Let us hope he was right.

Perhaps he didn't know that Indiana is under a federal quarantine that prohibits transporting firewood out of the state. I have to wonder why no law enforcement officials questioned where this man got his firewood and where he was going with it. State quarantines also govern the movement of firewood between counties in Indiana.

Related links:
Emerald Ash Borer in Indiana
USDA Forest Service EAB site
Map of EAB infection in the US (pdf)
UKy Entymology Dept. EAB page
Images of the emerald ash borer
USDA info sheet about the federal quarantine on Indiana firewood (pdf)

Afterthought:
The word "Carelesness" in this post's title should have been "Willful disregard".

4 comments -- please add yours:

new york city garden said...

I can feel his disinterest in helping out. Thats the difference between community and self-interest. How long will a pickup-bed of firewood last anyhow? Was it really worth it for a month of free wood in winter?

Although I once transported a shopping bag of tomatoes from Oregon to California. When the border agent asked if I had any produce in my truck I said nope, forgetting that I had picked all my green tomatoes before I moved out and put them deep in the bed. Plus I had never encountered such a question, being from NY originally. And I was 25 and ignorant.

Genevieve said...

This incident shows the importance of ongoing public education about the EAB. Really, unless you're focused on "tree news", you don't hear too much about the EAB in Kentucky.

For many people, it's likely that the various tree pests and diseases are all jumbled together under the heading, "Yet Another Tree Problem", and tossed into the dark back corner of their mind, rarely to be seen again. (I am that way myself about some topics that probably fascinate other people.)

Nevertheless, this is a very serious problem, and we who understand the gravity of the situation must educate those who don't.

Robin Usborne said...

This man violated a federal quarantine prohibiting the movement of ash wood and firewood outside of Indiana. If he'd been caught, he would have been prosecuted. See www.emeraldashborer.info for more information. It is illegal to move ash & firewood out of the states of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois., and from other areas of Missouri, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and W. Virginia.

As someone who has been communicating about EAB for the past 7 years, this is very disheartening to hear. Kentucky has been on the watch for EAB for a long time, and when I hear stories like this, I can't help but believe it's just a matter of time before they find it. This pest can kill every last ash tree in North America. Not only does moving firewood spread pests, it also spreads diseases. Shame on him, and very sad for all of us.

Genevieve said...

Don't let this discourage you, Robin. Rather, take it as evidence that you're doing something very important!

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Enrich your life with the study of trees.

"The power to recognize trees at a glance without examining their leaves or flowers or fruit as they are seen, for example, from the car-window during a railroad journey, can only be acquired by studying them as they grow under all possible conditions over wide areas of territory. Such an attainment may not have much practical value, but once acquired it gives to the possessor a good deal of pleasure which is denied to less fortunate travelers."

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Print references I frequently consult

Benvie, Sam. Encyclopedia of North American Trees. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2000.

Brockman, C. Frank. Trees of North America: A Guide to Field Identification. Ed. Herbert S. Zim. New York: Golden, 1986.

Cliburn, Jerry, and Ginny Clomps. A Key to Missouri Trees in Winter: An Identification Guide. Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, 1980.

Collingwood, G. H., Warren David Brush, and Devereux Butcher. Knowing Your Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1978.

Dirr, Michael. Dirr's Hardy Trees and Shrubs: an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Portland, Or.: Timber, 1997.

Elias, Thomas S. The Complete Trees of North America; Field Guide and Natural History. New York: Book Division, Times Mirror Magazines, 1980.

Grimm, William Carey. The Book of Trees;. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1962.

Hightshoe, Gary L. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America: a Planting Design Manual for Environmental Designers. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988.

Little, Elbert L. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees. New York: Chanticleer, 1996.

Martin, Alexander C., Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson. American Wildlife and Plants. New York: McGraw Hill, 1951.

Mitchell, Alan F., and David More. The Trees of North America. New York, NY: Facts On File Publications, 1987.

Randall, Charles E. Enjoying Our Trees. Washington: American Forestry Association, 1969.

Settergren, Carl D., and R. E. McDermott. Trees of Missouri. Columbia: University Extension, 1995.

Sternberg, Guy, and James W. Wilson. Native Trees for North American Landscapes: from the Atlantic to the Rockies. Portland: Timber, 2004.

Wharton, Mary E., and Roger W. Barbour. Trees and Shrubs of Kentucky. Lexington: University of Kentucky, 1973.

Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

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