A Serious Threat

The Emerald ash borer beetle is proving to be a more difficult opponent than the Department of Environmental Conservation originally thought.

Joe Martens, New York State DEC commissioner, and Darrel J. Aubertine, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets commissioner, recently announced that the state will propose a revision to its Emerald ash borer quarantine order to include all of the state south of the New York State Thruway, and east to the state border, except for Rockland, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties and New York City.

The Emerald ash borer beetle is an invasive, exotic insect that quickly kills all ash trees once it becomes established in an area or community. It was first discovered in the U.S. in 2002 in Detroit, Mich., and was discovered in Randolph in 2009. It has since spread to nearly all of New York state.

Up until recently, the regulations which have been put in place to limit the spread of the beetle have centered around a ban that kept untreated firewood from entering the state and restricted intrastate movement of untreated firewood to no more than a 50-mile radius from its source.

Going forward, the DEC will continue its educational outreach against moving firewood, however it will also create an emergency rule expanding the quarantine which will take effect May 1, and be followed by a permanent rule-making process.

The new quarantine is based on extensive stakeholder consultation and meetings involving municipal officials, utility companies, environmentalists, forest landowners, farmers, campground owners and wood-using businesses. It seeks to provide a measure of predictability for businesses and individuals handling regulated materials while attempting to slow the continued movement of the Emerald ash borer beetle.

“The emerald ash borer is a serious threat to our urban, suburban and rural forests,” said Diana Hoffman, APHIS’ state plant health director. “By working collaboratively with our state partners, local communities, industries and the public, we can curtail the human-assisted movement of the pest.”

The DEC is also continuing to ask local residents to report all signs which indicate that an Emerald ash borer beetle infestation has occurred.

If damage is consistent with the known symptoms of EAB infestation, report suspected damage by calling DEC’s emerald ash borer hotline or by submitting an EAB report at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/72136.html.

To learn more about emerald ash borer, the firewood regulation, or how you can help slow the spread, call the DEC’s toll-free EAB/firewood hotline at 1-866-640-0652 or visit the DEC website at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/7253.html.