Environmentalists: Get firewood locally this summer

A photo of an Asian Longhorned Beetle.

A photo of an Asian Longhorned Beetle.

State environmental agencies are urging residents to leave firewood at home this summer.

DEEP and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station says residents are being asked to help prevent the introduction and spread of destructive wood pests, like the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB), by buying and burning firewood near their vacation or camping destination.

“Harmful forest insects often spend a portion of their lifecycle as larvae inside the trunk and branches of trees and folks transporting infested firewood from one location to another may unknowingly move insect pests,” said Robert Klee, Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Purchasing firewood locally rather than transporting it from home is a best management practice that reduces the risk of spread of these destructive pests.”

The ALB is currently the greatest — but not the only — threat to the trees of Connecticut. The nearest infestation is within 30 miles of our border with Massachusetts, where Federal and State agricultural and forestry officials continue to eradicate the ALB infestation within a110 square mile quarantine zone in Worcester and surrounding towns. This effort has resulted in the cutting of more than 34,000 trees, and since October 2008 has cost the U.S. Department of Agriculture over $146 million. In New York, 137 square miles are under ALB regulation which includes the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, and a portion of central Long Island.

“We continue to see adverse impacts on our trees and forests by introduced insect pests such as the hemlock woolly adelgid, emerald ash borer, winter moth, and most recently, the southern pine beetle,” said State Entomologist Dr. Kirby Stafford at The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. “Buying and burning firewood locally is one way Connecticut’s citizens and visitors can help prevent the introduction or spread of some of these exotic, destructive insects.”

Emerald Ash Borer

Another danger to the trees of the state is posed by the Emerald Ash Borer. As a result of the presence of this beetle throughout much of Connecticut, there are restrictions on moving untreated firewood out-of state to New York and Rhode Island. Most New England State campgrounds and National Forest and Park campgrounds prohibit out-of state firewood. In addition to firewood confiscation, violators could face steep fines.

The DEEP and CAES recommend the following steps to prevent wood movement:

• Purchase all firewood near your camp or seasonal home destination instead of bringing it from home.
• Burn all wood purchased at your camp or seasonal home destination and do not carry it back home with you.

Infestation suspected?

Suspected infestations of ALB or beetles should be reported to The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station at [email protected] or the Office of the State Entomologist at 203-974-8474 or 203-974-8485. Reports can also be submitted to the Asian Longhorned beetle New England hotline number 866-702-9938.

Asian Longhorned Beetle

The Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) was first discovered attacking trees in the United States in New York City in 1996. ALB probably traveled to the United States inside solid wood packing material from China. The beetle has been intercepted at ports of entry and found in warehouses in various locations around the United States.

This beetle is a serious pest in China, where it kills hardwood trees. In the United States, the beetle prefers maple species including boxelder, Norway, red, silver and sugar maples. Other native preferred tree species include the birches, elms, horse chestnut, and willows.

Currently the only effective way to eradicate ALB is to remove infested trees and destroy them by chipping or burning. To prevent further spread of the insect, quarantines are established to regulate movement of articles that could carry lifestages of the pest including all firewood. Early detection of infestations and rapid response are crucial to successful eradication of the beetle, experts said.

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