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Editorial: Keep tree pest at bay ... don’t move firewood

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Last week was Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week in Indiana, as declared by Gov. Mike Pence. In his proclamation, he urged Hoosiers to avoid moving firewood. This is the best defense against the spread of this devastating pest.

Since its initial detection in Indiana about a decade ago, the insect has moved steadily southwest from the northeast corner of the state. Johnson County is one of many Hoosier counties with documented ash borer infestations. All of the surrounding counties also are infected.

The insect only recently was detected in several western Indiana counties, which means only a few counties in far southwestern Indiana have not been hit. But biologists say it is only a matter of time before those areas are hit as well.


Report suspected ash borer to the DNR’s toll-free Invasive Species Hotline at 866-NO-EXOTIC.

For more information, visit in.gov/dnr/entomolo/3443.htm or eabindiana.info.

Decades ago, many communities and individual homeowners planted ash trees because they were known to be fast-growing, strong and tolerant. Other benefits of trees include cleaner air, lower utility bills, higher property values and reduced flooding.

The exotic beetle was discovered in Michigan in 2002 and has been moving south ever since. The best way to identify the presence of the borer is to look for characteristic entry holes in the tree trunk. The holes look like a capital D on its side.

Homeowners should inspect their trees for infestation. Infected trees can be treated, but the prospects of saving a tree are not great. The best defense is to slow the spread by not moving wood from one area to another.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources regulates the types of firewood that can be brought into state parks and land. The wood must:

  • Be accompanied by a state or federal compliance stamp;
  • Be kiln-dried scrap lumber;
  • Or be completely debarked if brought from home within Indiana.

The DNR suggests these precautions when camping or picnicking to avoid importing the ash borer or other insect pests:

  • Buy firewood close to burn site.
  • Burn all wood completely before leaving the site.
  • Buy packaged firewood bearing a state or federal compliance stamp.

It’s up to individuals to make a difference in the future of Indiana’s trees. By following the DNR suggestions and planting alternative kinds of replacement trees, people can have a positive impact on the environment.

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