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A panel of experts presented the ways to reduce the spread of the tree-killing emerald ash borer.

Statewide Wood Quarantine Pending To Fight Ash Borer

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The emerald ash borer was found in Dalton and is able to kill an Ash tree in three to five years.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The local wood industry is fearful of a quarantine the federal government will be placing on the state to limit the spread of emerald ash borer.

The discovery of the emerald ash borer in a trap in Dalton in August has triggered the state and federal government to initiate a massive response that will include a quarantine to restrict the movement of wood outside of the quarantined area.

The plan includes stakeouts of logger traffic routes, inspections and forcing those who want to move various types of wood to apply for certification.

The federal government is going to place the quarantine on the state but it will be up to state officials to constrict it to only the county. Those in the local wood industry came out in numbers to a state Department of Conservation and Recreation hearing Tuesday to argue for a larger quarantine area to allow businesses to operate.

Jeff Poirier, president of Berkshire Hardwoods Inc., said the regulations would eliminate all lumber companies from moving wood during the summer months because there is not a dry-kiln in the county if the quarantined area is only the county. Firewood would have to be treated during the summer months and certified before being moved out of the quarantine area.

Glen Roberts, who runs a lumber company in Ashfield, said the state will not be able to keep the beetle from spreading beyond the Berkshires and a quarantine here would only hurt the logging business.

"You're not going to stop this unless you come up with some type of miracle," Roberts said.

About a half dozen others involved in the wood business voiced similar concern with the restricted transportation of lumber.

According to Patricia Douglass of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the quarantine is intended to reduce the "artificial movement" of the invasive species. Anyone who moves ash trees or any type of hardwood firewood out of the quarantined area would have to comply with regulations. Fines would be levied against those who are not in compliance.

The industries that will be affected are logging, nursery, tree work, firewood, milling and manufacturing, wood packing materials and wood byproducts, she said.

DCR Commissioner Ed Lambert said the state needs to take action to keep the species from spreading to other areas.
Nathan Siegert, a USDA forest entomologist, said the USDA will be implementing various techniques other than a quarantine to reduce the spread of the borer.

In November, some 100 to 200 trees in the area around the finding of the emerald ash borer in Dalton will be "delimited." The trees will be cut, shaved and inspected for larva to determine how far the outbreak has spread.

Of 713 traps statewide, only one ash borer has been found. But officials expect to find many more based on their experience in other states. Seventeen other states have confirmed outbreaks.

After determining the size of the infestation, the USDA will be focusing on removing large ash trees, using insecticide applications on the more valuable trees, introducing more woodpeckers and other animals that feed on borer eggs and using girdled trees (stripping the bark around the tree's trunk) to attract the insect and then destroying the tree before the eggs are hatched.

"Eradication has not been an effective strategy where it's been tried elsewhere," DCR Commissioner Ed Lambert said. "We need to take some action."

Tags: DCR,   emerald ash borer,   invasive species,   USDA,   

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