Conn. officials taking steps to combat beetle
HARTFORD, Conn.—Connecticut environmental protection officials are taking steps to combat a destructive beetle that has killed millions of ash trees across the U.S., as well as battle other insects and diseases that can be dispersed when firewood is moved.
Starting Aug. 9, there are plans to quarantine all ash wood, including logs and nursery stock, throughout New Haven County.
Meanwhile, a separate, new statewide regulation is expected to take effect the same day affecting the movement of firewood in and out of the state. It's part of an effort to stop the spread of disease and the entry of other invasive species, such as the Asian longhorn beetle.
"This is as much about education and bringing people on board because this is not going to work unless we get the cooperation of the loggers, the firewood producers, the arborists, the homeowners, because everybody has to recognize what we're trying to do so stop of this one invasive insect and stop the entry of this other invasive insect," said Chris Donnelly, the urban forestry coordinator for the state's Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
Last month, DEEP and the Connecticut Agriculture Experiment Station announced that the emerald ash borer was found in Prospect. The destructive green beetle, about a half-inch long, feeds strictly on ash trees. The larvae feed just beneath the bark while the adults feed on the trees' leaves. The beetles have killed or damaged ash trees in at least 12 states from the Midwest to New York.
Emerald ash borer beetles were discovered in March in Rhinebeck, N.Y., 25 miles from the Connecticut border.
Christopher Martin, DEEP's director of forestry, said officials plan to brief residents Wednesday about the planned quarantine for New Haven County affecting ash logs, ash nursery stock, and any variety of tree intended to be used for firewood unless the wood has been treated. An informational meeting is planned at the Prospect Fire House beginning at 7 p.m.
Violators who are caught moving the wood out of New Haven County could face fines.
Martin said the quarantine is expected to be in place for "a very, very long time." The quarantine area, however, is expected to eventually expand into other counties because officials believe the emerald ash borer will be discovered in other counties.
Donnelly said 900 monitoring traps were put out last year, 500 this year and an additional 40 are now being added in the Prospect area "to try and see if we can get better and more precise information about where the beetle is." He said about 3 to 5 percent of Connecticut forest is made up of ash trees. White ash is the most common variety.
"There's lots of wildlife and insects that depend upon ash trees," Donnelly said. "If we were to lose ash trees, it would be another missing piece of the puzzle."
Meanwhile, members of the state legislature's Regulation Review Committee have until Aug. 9 to act on proposed emergency regulations that require any firewood coming into Connecticut from other states to include information about where it originated. State officials will be allowed to decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether to require the wood to be fumigated.
The proposal also calls for any firewood being moved within the state to have a certificate or paperwork showing where it originated. DEEP will have a certificate on its website that can be downloaded, Martin said.
If the committee does not act by Aug. 9, the new regulations will automatically take effect.
Martin urged residents who vacation out-of-state not to bring Connecticut firewood with them when the travel in order to prevent any invasive species from cropping up in other states.