First posted on 10-09-2014
During its September meeting, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved an emergency ban on the importation of firewood on all AGFC-owned wildlife management areas. Precautionary measures are also underway to prevent the spread of the EAB throughout Arkansas’s national wildlife refuges.
This includes people camping on the state’s WMAs. The ban is to prevent the spread of an exotic insect known as the emerald ash borer. The insects feed on and are likely to kill all of Arkansas’s ash species.
The insect has been discovered in six southwest Arkansas counties. The five counties are Ouachita, Clark, Columbia, Dallas, Hot Spring and Nevada. It was first discovered in Michigan in 2002 and has since killed tens of millions of trees.
Firewood can easily transport harmful foreign pests and diseases causing other problems to our forests, according to AGFC forester Martin Blaney. “Wood that looks clean may actually be concealing insects like the emerald ash borer,” Blaney says.
The three NWRs within a quarantine zone in southwest Arkansas (Felsenthal, Overflow and Pond Creek) also will suspend firewood cutting permits for home heating purposes.
For the NWRs that allow camping, the following conditions apply: 1) individuals may collect downed trees, logs or limbs no more than 100 feet from roads and trails open to motorized vehicles, 2) it is prohibited to damage standing trees or habitat, 3) on public roads all debris must be removed from the road, shoulders and ditches, 4) all vehicles including ATVs and UTVs must remain on designated roads or trails, 5) all refuge regulations apply and will be strictly enforced.
“First and foremost, it is our priority to protect our forests and wildlife resources from such threats” says Michael Stroeh, Project Leader of South Arkansas Refuges Complex, “Cooperative efforts from both the state and federal levels to prohibit imported firewood and quarantine unaffected areas of the state is crucial at such time.”
The adult emerald ash borer is a metallic green insect about one-half inch long and one-eighth inch wide making it hard to detect in the wild. The female beetles lay eggs on the bark of ash trees. The eggs hatch and the larvae bore into the bark to the fluid-conducting vessels underneath. The larvae feed and develop, cutting off the flow of nutrients and, eventually killing the tree. EAB attacks and kills North American species of true ash, and tree death occurs three to five years following initial infestation.
Signs of EAB include: canopy dieback beginning at the top of the tree and progressing through the year until the tree is bare; sprouts growing from the roots and trunk; split bark with an S-shape gallery; D-shaped exit holes; and more woodpecker activity, creating large holes as they extract the larvae.
State and USDA APHIS PPQ personnel will now survey trees in the areas surrounding the initial finds to determine the extent of the EAB infestation. To report signs of the beetle to the Arkansas State Plant Board, call 501-225-1598. For more information about Emerald Ash Borer, visit: http://www.emeraldashborer.info or http://www.arinvasives.org/.
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