Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week Press Release by Montana Department of Agriculture

Here’s an excellent example of a press release provided this morning by the Montana Department of Agriculture for Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, May 19, 2014


Emerald Ash Borer: Ash Tree Killer

Invasive Pest Could Decimate Ash Trees in Montana Cities and Urban Areas

Helena, Mont. – In an ongoing effort to increase awareness of the threat of emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire, the Montana Department of Agriculture is tagging ash trees that are at risk if the invasive pest is discovered within the state.  The tagging and awareness efforts will coincide with Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week from May 19 – 25, 2014.

“Tens of millions of ash trees are dying across the country from the emerald ash borer.  While it has not been detected in Montana, our ash trees are at still at risk, especially now that EAB was discovered in Boulder, Colorado last year.   Preventing the spread of the emerald ash borer from other states with known infestation and early detection will help stave off the worst impacts,” explained Ian Foley, pest management program manager for agriculture.

Capitol grounds crews and department of agriculture specialists identified ash trees in and around the State Capitol, and marked those at risk with a green tag that states: ‘THIS ASH TREE IS AT RISK OF BEING KILLED BY THE EMERALD ASH BORER.’ The tag directs people to www.emeraldashborer.info for information on the pest and management options and www.dontmovefirewood.org for information on the transportation of EAB.


“Ash trees make up roughly 30% of the public trees in Montana’s urban forests,” according to Jamie Kirby, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation urban forestry program manager. “The potential impacts from this pest cannot be ignored – millions of dollars of ash trees are at risk.  Our best case scenario is early detection with collaborative efforts, frequent sampling and monitoring for signs of the emerald ash borer.”

For example, the city of Helena has around 6,900 ash trees that are at risk.

“The Montana Urban and Community Forestry Association (MUCFA) was the first western group to promote an ash branch sampling methodology recommended by Canadian Forest Service research.  We have to be diligent to ensure we find EAB earlier than Colorado did if we are going to have a chance to contain its spread,” said Patrick Plantenberg, chair of the association.  It was estimated that EAB had been present in Colorado for several years before it was officially detected.

The emerald ash borer spreads slowly on its own, rarely flying more than a mile from where it hatches in its lifetime.  When accidentally transported by people, it can travel hundreds of miles in a single day.  Infested firewood is the most common source of new infestations.  Infested nursery stock, and wooden packaging may also harbor EAB larvae.

Leigh Greenwood, Don’t Move Firewood National Manager with The Nature Conservancy said, “We want people to know that when they visit Montana from out of state, they should not be bringing firewood with them. It is just not worth risking millions of dollars in damage to save a few bucks on your bundle of firewood. Montana has plenty of locally harvested firewood for sale, or visitors are welcome to gather firewood near their campsites whenever it is allowed.”

The green tags will be prominent on ash trees throughout the week.  Other cities interested in coordinating an education and outreach effort in their community should contact the department’s pest management bureau at (406) 444-9454.

The Montana Department of Agriculture’s mission is to protect producers and consumers, and to enhance and develop agriculture and allied industries.  For more information on the Montana Department of Agriculture, visit agr.mt.gov.

Buying firewood at a large store?

Dear Don't Move Firewood,

I am on the Board of Directors for my community in (town near Denver), Colorado, and I want to spread the word to my community about moving firewood. I am unclear on one thing: Is firewood bought from the grocery store, or a big box store, okay if it is sourced from far away? Thank you!

Concerned Citizen


Dear Concerned Citizen,


You are right to be a little perplexed about how and if large stores purchase firewood wisely. While large stores are going to be very careful to source their firewood supplies legally, the legal rules in place actually aren't fully protective against certain forest pest situations. For instance, many forest pest infestations take years to be discovered- and all that time, firewood could be shipped hundreds of miles away to be sold at your town's chain gas stations, large grocery stores, and "big box" retailers. Likewise, native forest pests could be present and not subject to quarantines- yet moving these pests hundreds or even thousands of miles in firewood can pose a very real risk to forests and trees.


I inquired with my colleague Mitch Yergert, Director of the Colorado Division of Plant Industry, to see what his official statement might be for Colorado firewood. He said, "Because there are no national firewood regulations, we have no way of knowing what pests firewood imported from outside of Colorado may be harboring.  Therefore it is much better to purchase firewood produced locally so that the chance of moving plant pests is greatly reduced."


This bring us to- what is local? when is firewood actually local? That's a really tricky question- in Wisconsin, the regulation is 10 miles from wood source to burn location. In many states, the guideline or regulation is 50 miles. For Colorado, the guidelines are not mileage specific, but instead authorities suggest "as close as possible" whenever feasible, and always from within the state of Colorado itself. Additionally, because of the presence of both non-native and native forest pests (emerald ash borer, thousand cankers disease, mountain pine beetle) in Colorado trees, it is extremely important for Coloradoans never to take firewood with them out of state, or even to different communities within the state.


The one notable exception to these out-of-state concerns is wood that is certified as heat treated, with USDA-APHIS heat treatment seal on it. This wood is heated in a kiln to a specific high temperature, for a set duration of time to "cook", which kills all potential pests in the wood. Packaged and labeled heat treated wood like this is safe to use even if it is from many states away. However, wood with a certified heat treatment seal is not widely available in Colorado, so it isn't a great solution to the general regional question. (Learn more about heat treated firewood, and how it is not the same as just kiln dried firewood, here)


Best of luck with your educational efforts!


Getting ready for Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week!

May is a great month to get the word out about forest pests- and this year it brings the 10th annual Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week! The week is May 18th to 24th, 2014 and is planned and organized by the fine people at USDA APHIS. States all around the US will be issuing proclamations, press releases, and more. Here's a few ideas to get you going on your own outreach materials to work with this great effort!