Thursday, May 14, 2015

New Efforts Announced to Fight Emerald Ash Borer

From state Ag and Markets:

The state of New York on Thursday announced new efforts to combat and slow the spread of the emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive beetle that damages and kills ash trees in forested and urban settings.  

The state Department of Agriculture and Markets and state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have revised the state’s EAB management regulations, providing greater protection for un-infested communities and forests, allowing municipalities opportunity to prepare and better plan for future infestation, and easing restrictions on the forest products industry.

After conducting extensive outreach to the industry, New York state has revised its regulations and will create 14 restricted zones — which include a buffer area of five miles — that allow the free movement of infested materials within the new boundaries without compliance agreements or permits.

This will make it easier for municipalities, homeowners and the forest products industry to remove, treat and dispose of infested materials in these areas. The revised regulations will help slow the spread of EAB, providing opportunity for un-infested communities to better plan for the management of the insect.

Since the initial discovery of EAB in New York, the invasive species has been detected in portions of 23 counties. Although the county-by-county quarantine along with enhanced firewood regulations has been highly effective in slowing the spread of EAB, it has also regulated significant portions of the state that are not currently infested with EAB.  

In some instances, the quarantine and associated regulations have made EAB management more challenging. 

The new approach to EAB management also will ease regulations on the forest products industry by eliminating bark, mulch and wood chips from the definition of a regulated article (except for the 30 days encompassing April 15-May 15, just prior to EAB emergence), and relaxing the chip size specification. 

The DEC will continue to survey for EAB statewide and coordinate with the Department of Agriculture and Markets to update the restricted zones as necessary. New York state and Cornell Cooperative Extension are available to assist municipalities with development of EAB management plans.   

In addition, the DEC will also be replacing its current EAB quarantine order with a parallel quarantine regulation. In coordination with these changes in state EAB regulations, the USDA has expanded its federal EAB quarantine to include all of New York state, and will continue to oversee the movement of ash regulated articles in interstate and international commerce. 

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “One of the best lines of defense we have against EAB is to continue to update our management strategy and be proactive in our planning. Giving our municipalities the opportunity to plan for future infestation will not only save them time and money, but will also go a long way in limiting the spread of this destructive insect.”

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said, “DEC continues to work closely with the Department of Agriculture and Markets and other state agencies, federal departments and regional partners to identify, contain and effectively manage the EAB.  By adopting regulations to tighten quarantine boundaries to include only areas with known infestation, we can isolate and better control the EAB, which will protect trees and forests and help mitigate environmental and economic impacts.”

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