Protecting local forests from the Emerald Ash borer

4 mins read

Written by Sally Speich 

FARMINGTON – Many people have heard of the new “invasion” of the Ash tree borer. This insect has devastated hundreds of thousands of acres of trees in the U.S. According to the Maine Forestry Department site, Ash is an important cultural resource for the Wabanaki, an important street tree, and a valuable timber species, accounting for around four percent of Maine’s hardwood forest inventory- more 400 million trees. There are many people working on how to combat these insects. The question is can we hold them off until an inexpensive cure is found?

There is currently a quarantine to help stop the spread of this insect. According to the Maine government website “the quarantine area includes all of York County, all of Cumberland County, parts of Oxford County and the northern corner of Aroostook County. EAB was found in northern Aroostook County in May 2018, western York County in September 2018, and Cumberland County in September 2019…Maine’s proposed EAB quarantine rules would maintain the prohibition on moving potentially EAB-infested materials into Maine’s non-regulated areas from other states or Canadian provinces.”

Part of the problem is the movement of firewood for camping. There is currently a regulation governing firewood for campgrounds, part of which states:

No person shall bring firewood into Maine unless it has been treated so that its core temperature has reached at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 75 minutes and is accompanied by a treatment certificate or label from a United States Department of Agriculture qualified treatment facility, or similar documentation of treatment from an analogous state agency in accordance with the USDA Plant Protection and Quarantine Treatment Manual, or from analogous Canadian authorities attesting such treatment.

All retail sellers of firewood in Maine must be able to demonstrate by bill of sale, harvest notification report, trip ticket, and/or other mechanism that any firewood they are selling came from an in-state source, or if the firewood originated from out-of-state that it was accompanied by a treatment certificate or label. If the retail seller is not able to produce evidence of either, the firewood is subject to confiscation by the Maine Bureau of Forestry.

Persons transporting firewood within Maine may be required to identify the source of the firewood in order to show compliance with this Section. In accordance with 12 M.R.S. § 9701, any person who violates any requirement of this Emergency Order commits a civil violation for which a forfeiture not to exceed $1,000 may be adjudged. Each day of a violation shall be considered a separate offense.

So how many trees are we talking about in our community? Well, when the Elm Tree blight took out most of the shade trees, Ash trees were planted to replace them. Ash trees are also one of the most common trees in our forested areas. We have literally thousands of Ash trees here in Franklin County. One of the ideas to show how important these trees are for us as a community is to hang purple ID tags on trees in the downtown areas to show how many trees we stand to lose if the Emerald Ash borer is brought into our area. The forestry department has a program where you can get special laminated tags to hang. See the image to identify the Ash tree. You can also go to www.maine.gov/eab For more information on conducting or assisting with an ash tree tagging event in our community, contact the Farmington Conservation Commission via srspike52@gmail.com.

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