The Winneshiek County Conservation Board is asking for the public's help in reducing the risk of the emerald ash borer spreading to Winneshiek County.
Emerald ash borer (EAB) is an exotic pest from Asia and is considered one of the most destructive tree pests seen in decades, having already killed tens of millions of trees since it was first discovered in the United States in 2002 in Southeast Michigan. EAB larvae burrow under the bark of ash trees to feed, which limits the ability of the tree to transport water and nutrients and may kill the tree in as little as two to four years.
EAB was first found in Iowa in Allamakee County in 2010. Its presence was confirmed in Des Moines and Jefferson counties earlier this summer.
According to the Entomology and Plant Science Bureau of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), human activities, including the transportation of infested firewood and other unprocessed ash materials, are the primary cause of the long-distance spread of EAB.
The Winneshiek County Conservation Board asks everyone to help prevent the spread of EAB by not moving firewood and instead purchasing and using local firewood.
"It's tempting to bring your own firewood when you head out of county for camping or bonfires, but buying local firewood is an easy, responsible way to help protect all of Iowa from EAB," said Barb Schroeder, director of the Winneshiek County Conservation Board. "Please don't bring out-of-county wood to Winneshiek County parks and lands, and don't take our wood out of the county. Buy and burn locally."
In 2011, Iowa enacted a law that all firewood sold in the state, including bulk wood, must be labeled with the harvest location of the wood by county and state.
"When you are purchasing firewood, be sure to support responsible vendors that are complying with labeling regulations," Schroeder said.
Federal and state laws have also been enacted to quarantine ash firewood, logs and unprocessed materials from infested areas, including Allamakee County and sections of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois. Additional quarantines for Jefferson and Des Moines counties will soon be issued by IDALS and the USDA. Regulated ash materials from quarantined areas cannot be transported, even by individuals, outside of infested areas except by special federal and state certification.
In addition, individuals can help slow the spread of EAB by keeping aware of how and where the pest is spreading, by learning the signs of possible infestation, and by planting a variety of different shade tree species to help diversify urban and rural landscaping.
More information on emerald ash borer, including identification guides, quarantine maps and additional ways to help prevent the spread of the pest, can be found at the IDALS outreach website iowatreepests.com and through ISU Extension and Outreach.
The Winneshiek County Conservation Board can be contacted at 563-534-7145 or by visiting winneshiekwild.com.