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Maine quarantine on emerald ash borer announced

Christian Fernsby |
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has announced a formal quarantine on emerald ash borer (EAB) and material that may harbor it.

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The quarantine area includes all of York County and the northeastern corner of Aroostook County.

The quarantine boundaries were drawn to include a buffer on those towns where EAB had been detected.

EAB was found in northern Aroostook County in May 2018 and in western York County in September 2018.

An emergency order has been in place to limit movement of infested ash from areas where the pest has been found since those discoveries.

Quarantine rules prohibit movement of ash nursery stock from the quarantine area, and regulate the movement of hardwood firewood, hardwood chips and other ash products with bark, such as logs and pulp, and untreated ash lumber.

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry staff, in partnership with the U.S.

Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine are working with the public and impacted industries to ensure compliance with the quarantine.

"A quarantine can help slow the spread of this destructive insect into uninfested areas," said State Entomologist Allison Kanoti.

"That gives businesses, Native American craftspeople and artists that use ash as well as homeowners, landowners and municipalities who care for ash across the state additional time to consider their options and make plans for a future with EAB."

That future will include far fewer ash trees.

Maine forests have more than 400 million white, green, and brown ash trees at risk.

Ash is also an important street tree in towns and cities.

EAB is an invasive wood-boring beetle that attacks ash trees by disrupting the flow of water and nutrients causing the tree to die.

Native ash trees have little resistance to attack, and often die within a few years of initial arrival of the beetle.

EAB was first discovered in North America in 2002.

Since its arrival, it has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees.

White ash shows some resistance to and tolerance of attack by EAB.

A fraction of those trees may be able to survive in the presence of EAB.

The US Department of Agriculture has been working on a program to provide ash with another form of defense-tiny wasps from Asia that attack the eggs or young of EAB and may eventually bring their populations to a tolerable level.

Despite these glimmers of hope, EAB will devastate ash in Maine.

Cities and towns from New England through the Midwest report damage to infrastructure such as power lines and hazards to people related to the deterioration of ash trees attacked by this insect.

Ash will be lost as a functional part of forest ecosystems, joining the ranks of American elm and American chestnut.

Ash will no longer be available as a material for forest products including baseball bats, baskets, tool handles, flooring, cabinetry and others.

The goal of the quarantine is to slow the spread of the insect to delay impacts to the ecosystem, native culture and economy.


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