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Illinois Country Living

October 2007 Issue: FeatureCommentaryCurrents SafetyGardenEnergy SolutionsFinest CookingMore
Emerald Ash Borer Infestation Spreading to Illinois

The Illinois Department of Agriculture has expanded its emerald ash borer quarantine to include all or portions of the 18 northeastern-most counties of Illinois.

Additionally, adjustments were made to the quarantine to further restrict movement of potentially-infested wood products during the emerald ash borer flight season.

"These latest emerald ash borer findings necessitate a considerable adjustment of the emerald ash borer quarantine boundaries as well as some additional requirements for movement of wood products within the quarantined area," says Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke. "We must do all we can to limit the artificial spread of this devastating pest."

The other adjustment to the quarantine helps prevent the artificial spread of the pest during the transport of yard waste and landscape debris within the quarantined area.

"When potentially-infested wood products are being hauled to and from waste management facilities during the emerald ash borer flight season, there is a potential for contamination of healthy areas within the quarantine zone," says Warren Goetsch, Bureau Chief of Environmental Programs. "The adjustment requires waste haulers to cover the products from an infested area during transport through emerald ash borer flight season, which is from June through August, to curb this threat."

Additionally, the quarantine prohibits the removal of the following items from regulated areas:

  • The emerald ash borer in any living stage of development.
  • Ash trees of any size.
  • Ash limbs and branches.
  • Any cut, non-coniferous firewood.
  • Bark from ash trees and wood chips larger than one-inch from ash trees.
  • Ash logs and lumber with either the bark or the outer one-inch of sapwood, or both, attached.
  • Any item made from or containing the wood of the ash tree that is capable of spreading the emerald ash borer.
  • Any other article, product or means of conveyance determined by the Illinois Department of Agriculture to present a risk of spreading the beetle infestation.

Anyone convicted of moving prohibited items from the quarantine area without prior certification by an Illinois Department of Agriculture nursery inspector may be fined up to $500.

How the emerald ash borer arrived in Illinois is unknown, but the department suspects it may have been transported here in contaminated firewood. To avoid the accidental introduction of the beetle to new areas, the department encourages Illinoisans to purchase only locally-grown nursery stock and locally-cut firewood. Anyone who suspects a tree has been infested is urged to contact their county extension office or their village forester for a consultation.

Electric cooperatives in Michigan are being hit especially hard by the emerald ash borer, which is decimating ash trees across the state, especially in southeastern Michigan. The infested area is growing into Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

An infestation of the emerald ash borer can quickly turn healthy ash trees near the right of way of power lines into dead and dying "danger" trees that must be removed before causing an outage. To avoid spreading the infestation, the wood, debris and stumps must be handled carefully.

Cal Williams, Manager of Vegetation for Corn Belt Energy in Bloomington, says, "A number of the quarantined counties are located in our northern service territory."

Williams says Corn Belt Energy has chosen to be proactive and not move any ash wood or debris from the site of origin and grind all ash tree stumps to 8-inches below the soil surface. He says, "This procedure is being applied not just in the quarantine area but in all of our service territory."

Illinois has a chance to protect its population of ash trees by monitoring the situation, educating the public and enforcing the quarantine.

Still, Williams is worried about the impact. He says, "Thirty percent of the Illinois tree population is ash. The emerald ash borer will have a dramatic impact on our state's tree population. At Corn Belt Energy I will be recommending a budget increase for tree removal to better prepare for this devastating insect and the number of dead ash tree removals that will come from the spread of the emerald ash borer."

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© 2007 Illinois Country Living Magazine.
Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives

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