Campers asked <br />to stem spread of beetle

Campers asked
to stem spread of beetle Ray Sowers, state forester and director of the South Dakota Resource Conservation and Forestry Division, is asking out-of-state campers and picnickers to keep a pest from spreading into South Dakota by leaving firewood at home. "Any movement of firewood across state boundaries carries the risk of introducing emerald ash borer into South Dakota," Sowers explained. The emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive species brought into the United States from China, is deadly to any ash tree it attacks. Infestations were first detected in Michigan in 2002; since then, 10 more states have been plagued by EAB and are now included in a federal quarantine. The insect pest was recently discovered in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, but has not been found in South Dakota. Emerald ash borers often are spread by out-of-state firewood. That is especially troublesome because new infestations are difficult to detect. "The beetles may spread for several years before they are discovered," Sowers said. Since all EAB attacks are fatal, an infestation would be devastating for South Dakota, which has more than one million ash trees. Green ash is the most dominant tree in many communities, often representing 30 to 50 percent of tree populations, Sowers said. To curb the spread of this pest, the South Dakota Department of Agriculture is also urging community officials, homeowners, and nursery/garden centers to consider planting tree species other than ash. By diversifying the types of trees being planted, the department hopes to lessen the long-term impact of emerald ash borer if the insect arrives in South Dakota. In the short term, however, managing firewood is the best means of preventing the introduction of emerald ash borer. Campers should burn and dispose of any firewood brought onto campsites, rather than leaving it for other campers. The best option, though, is to leave wood at home and purchase "safe" firewood at campgrounds.

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