Emerald ash borer reaches Maryland’s Eastern Shore

Guest blog contributed by Faith Campbell, Center for Invasive Species Prevention

May we all pause to send our condolences to Maryland?

Maryland has fought for a dozen years to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer.  State agency leaders knew they had ash resources worth protecting:  more than 200,000 trees in the state’s principal city, Baltimore.  Ashes are the most common tree in the city.  The surrounding counties have even more- up to an estimated 6.5 million ash trees.

And millions of ash protect water quality and forest ecosystems of the native riparian areas and wetlands around the Chesapeake Bay.  Ash constitute about 4% of the state’s trees, with higher densities in the lowland and wetland areas of the Eastern Shore – the parts of the state east of the Chesapeake Bay.

Maryland almost defines itself by the Bay, so the state has focused on trying to prevent EAB from reaching the Eastern Shore. This summer, officials learned that they have lost that battle.

According to a report by Jonathan Wilson of radio station WAMU, EAB have been caught in monitoring traps in two counties on the Shore.

Officials suspect the beetle reached the Shore in loads of firewood driven across the Bay Bridge; the trap on Kent Island, the eastern terminus of the bridge, held dozens of beetles.  Steve Bell of Maryland’s Department of Agriculture says that means that EAB is well established and has already begun reproducing in the area.

Maryland staff checking a purple trap- photo courtesy MD Dept Agriculture, EAB Program

The story in Baltimore is a familiar one.  The city must find the $1 million it will cost to manage the 5,000 street trees that are ash species- and thus will be affected.  The city’s entire tree management budget is only $3 million dollars, so very difficult tree management choices loom.

Maryland has hopes that the parasitic wasps introduced as biocontrol agents might eventually curtail EAB populations and resulting damage. This is a potentially effective long term solution- only time will tell if it will work in Maryland.

In the short run, we know that trees vital to both urban and rural/wildland areas will die. So let us pause to mourn Maryland’s loss.

Editor’s note: the Federal Order for Maryland’s full inclusion in the EAB quarantine was released 7/23/2015, “APHIS Adds All of Maryland to the Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) Regulated Area”

 

Free downloads for National Moth Week

Did you know that some invasive moths can travel to new places, and infest new forests and trees, on contaminated firewood? In 2020, National Moth Week will be July 18 to 26 and here at Don’t Move Firewood we are providing all our free moth-related materials and downloads to anyone that would like to learn more about how to identify or prevent the movement of invasive moths.

The two invasive forest pests that fit with National Moth Week are winter moth and gypsy moth. Winter moth is a pest that could be spread in the egg stage via firewood. This pest is generally uncommon outside of New England and Nova Scotia. You can learn more about winter moth on the UMass Extension Program winter moth site.

Far more common than winter moth are the European gypsy moth and Asian gypsy moth. Gypsy moths will lay their eggs on firewood as well as live trees, and any sort of solid outdoor objects (for instance, flower pots and lawn furniture can also become infested with egg masses). To the casual observer, European and Asian gypsy moth are identical- the only clear difference is that the Asian gypsy moth females can fly, where the European gypsy moth females are flightless.

Here are our favorite resources for gypsy moth- enjoy!

gypsy moth mask Bug masks of both male and female gypsy moths (Colored In or Line Drawn, thumbnails shown are for male moth- both sexes are included in the download) produced by Don’t Move Firewood
Templates for making your own gypsy moth caterpillar fake tattoo or gypsy moth female adult fake tattoos, produced by Don’t Move Firewood
Identification video for gypsy moth, produced by our partners at Outsmart Invasives and Healthy Trees, Healthy Cities
Educational website on gypsy moth, produced by our partners at  USDA APHIS
Plant Heroes Gypsy Moth Activity Books, produced by our partners at  Plant Heroes, a program of the American Public Gardens Association

 

 

Vermont’s Firewood Awareness Week: A blazing success!

Guest blog by Mollie Klepack, Vermont Forest Pest Outreach Coordinator

In communities across Vermont, trees are marked with orange ribbon and tags exhorting everyone to “Protect This Tree, leave firewood at home.”

During the week of May 17-23 2015, citizens learned about this request as Vermont celebrated the important role local firewood plays in protecting our trees. The goals of Firewood Awareness Week were; to draw attention to the risks of moving firewood; to feature the social, economic, environmental, and personal impacts of invasive pests; and to educate the public about the upcoming state quarantine regulating the movement of firewood into Vermont. When the dust settled at the end of the week, 450 ash trees had been tagged at rest areas, campgrounds, and trailheads throughout Vermont;  4 rest area blitzes had been hosted by 13 staff and volunteers; over 18,000 people were reached through social media; and that was just the beginning!

Kim, the Park Ranger at Mount Philo State Park, stands with a tree tag for Vermont’s Firewood Awareness Week.

Highlights from Vermont’s Firewood Awareness Week include :

  • 450 host trees (which include maple, ash, birch, and poplar) tagged at 14 rest areas, 12 state parks, 1 federal campground, and 2 trailheads throughout Vermont.
  • Four rest area blitzes hosted at the Wiliston Northbound Information Center, Sharon Welcome Center, Fair Haven Welcome Center, and Bennington Welcome Center.
  • Over 500 visitors to Vermont’s rest areas entertained by Gwen the EAB and Smokey Bear, telling them to “Buy It Where You Burn It” at the rest area blitzes.
  • One University of Vermont Extension Across the Fence TV Show aired – Click here to view the episode!
  • Over 18,200 people engaged through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts
  • Don’t Move Firewood PSAs played on at least 5 community access TV stations, serving 47 towns across Vermont.
  • Over seven newspaper and newsletter articles published about the Awareness Week and an op-ed by Steve Sinclair, Director of Forests for Vermont’s Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation.
  • Three Front Porch Forum posts shared in at least ten Vermont communities.

Firewood Awareness Week was a collaborative effort of UVM Extension, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation; Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets; USDA/APHIS; U.S. Forest Service, and Don’t Move Firewood.

 

University of Vermont students visit the Sharon Rest Area Blitz, where they were greeted by Smokey Bear, asking them to buy and burn local firewood.

Plans are afoot to host another firewood themed awareness week in early summer 2016. Lessons learned and ideas for that effort include :

  • Rest area blitzes are a fun, easy way to reach visitors to the state.  The hours of peak visitation, however, do not easily line up with the standard workday, so it is important to carefully weigh the goals of the program vs. capacity to staff the event outside standard business hours.
  • Social media is a great way to get the word out.  One strategy that worked well for Firewood Awareness Week was to partner with other organizations and special interest groups to share content in order to leverage audiences and reach.
  • Don’t Move Firewood.org was a tremendous partner to provide advice and graphic design for materials such as banners, brochures, posters, and handouts.  Thank you Don’t Move Firewood!
  • An outreach avenue we will explore for future awareness efforts is to partner with grocery stores to provide Don’t Move Firewood brochures with their s’more and hotdog displays during the summer months.

You can view or download four of the outreach products used for this event here:

Vermont Forest Pest Outreach Coordinator, Mollie Klepack, will also be reaching out to other pest outreach programs in New England and New York to explore the potential of hosting a region-wide firewood awareness week.

Get ready for a great summer!

Are you excited for this summer? Here at Don’t Move Firewood, we’re looking forward to it for sure. Here’s our quick guide to our available summer resources for outreach professionals, parents, kids and anyone looking for more information:

 

Summer Special Events that are great for firewood outreach:

 

To prepare for these events, we suggest visiting the following excellent sources for free downloads on the topics of firewood, emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, and Asian longhorned beetle:

 

Do you have an event or resource page that should be listed here? Email us at info@dontmovefirewood.org to suggest an addition to either list, and we’ll update this post as needed!

Take This One Step to Protect Trees on Memorial Day

Are you planning to start your camping season off right this Memorial Day weekend?

This blog first ran on 5/20/2015 at Conservancy Talk, a blog by The Nature Conservancy

Here’s one simple way to combine your desire to protect the environment with your plans to have a great time outdoors: don’t move firewood from your home or backyard to your campsite.

Firewood can contain hitchhiking forest pests — often invisible to the naked eye in the form of tiny insect eggs or larvae hidden deep inside the wood — and these tiny organisms can be enough to destroy whole ecosystems.

Now more than ever, all outdoor enthusiasts need to know that they should be getting their firewood by one of the following ways: buying it at or near their campsite, gathering it on site when permitted, or buying certified heat treated firewood with a either a state seal or a USDA APHIS seal of compliance.

These three options all work to prevent the movement of invasive forest pests.

It is up to you to figure out which source of firewood works best for your camping trip. Just remember the simple rule: don’t move firewood. Bringing firewood from your home isn’t safe for the forest, and in fact it is often against state or federal regulations.

By buying it where you’ll burn it, you are helping prevent the movement of damaging forest pests like the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, gypsy moth, and others.

These pests don’t move far on their own, but when unsuspecting campers move contaminated firewood, they can start new infestations, spreading the problem farther and wider.

 

These small D-shaped holes are a sign that an ash tree is infested with the emerald ash borer. Photo © Dan Herms, Ohio State University, ForestryImages.org

Forest pests can be devastating to not just the trees they infest, but to entire ecosystems. You might not realize it, but millions of trees have been lost, and whole species of trees have been driven to the brink of extinction — all because of forest pests.

Starting with the accidental introductions of forest pests like white pine blister rust and European gypsy moth in the late 1800s and continuing to recent discoveries of Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer over 100 years later, forests pests are not a new problem.

Fortunately, forest managers and scientists all over North America are continuously working to slow the spread of invasives, contain the infestations that can be eradicated, and educate the public on how they can help.

And indeed, the silver lining to this story is this: you can help. You can tell everyone — your friends, your family, your neighbors — don’t move firewood. Instead buy or gather it on site, or buy certified heat treated wood before you go.

If you aren’t sure if there will be firewood for sale at your campsite, take a minute to call ahead to find out if you can simply collect it on site.

By doing the right thing and educating others, you become part of the solution. You can rest easy this Memorial Day weekend knowing that the source of your campfire is good for the forest!

Attract more attention with Forest Pest Fly Tying

Guest blog authored by Bob Wiltshire, Executive Director, Invasive Species Action Network

Are you looking for a great way to stimulate discussion about forest pests? The Forest Pest Fly Tying Project may be the program you need! If you’re not familiar with fly tying you probably don’t realize the amazing things a talented fly tier can do with a hook, some thread and a bit of feather and foam. The fly tiers in this program tie Asian longhorned beetle flies that are amazingly realistic – enough so you and your staff can use them to teach the public how to identify ALB.

While the fly tiers are not experts on the insects themselves, they can make a huge difference in attracting quality attention to your outreach booth. Forest pest experts across the country have found that adding a fly tier to a booth at a garden or sporting show, county fair or other event results in more people joining the discussion about forest pests and the Don’t Move Firewood campaign.

Right now the program is working with Arbor Day events. Depending on the dates and region, we may be able to supply a fly tier in your area for your upcoming summer or fall events. For more information visit: the Forest Pest Fly Tying Project or contact Bob Wiltshire at bob@stopans.org.

Exotic Forest Pests a Threat to Our Mountains

Guest Editorial from Jason Love, Chair, Western North Carolina Public Lands Council

 

Exotic Forest Pests a Threat to Our Mountains

 

I am writing on behalf of the Western North Carolina Public Lands Council, an advisory group appointed by the Governor of North Carolina, whose mission is to promote the protection, conservation, and sustainability of western North Carolina’s natural and economic resources.  The Council meets regularly with representatives of both federal and state agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and N.C. State Parks, to discuss issues that impact public lands and the citizens of western North Carolina. 

 

Recently the Council has learned about the threat of forest pests such as the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, and thousand cankers disease.  These pests are not native to the U.S. so our trees have no natural defenses against them.  Moreover, these pests can be transported great distances through the movement of firewood. 

 

It is conservatively estimated that if these forest pests were to become established in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, they would have the potential to wipe out 50% of the forested area in the park.  Massachusetts has had to spend over $100 million just to combat the Asian longhorned beetle; entire forests, including over ten thousand trees in residential areas, had to be cut down and ground into fine mulch. The Asian longhorned beetle infestation in Ohio, discovered in 2011, has already necessitated the removal of well over 60 thousand trees from backyards, parks, and wooded areas.

 

We have witnessed the decline or loss of several of our native trees to exotic pests: American chestnut (chestnut blight), eastern hemlock (hemlock wooly adelgid), and flowering dogwood (dogwood anthracnose), just to name a few.  This new suite of forest pests has the potential to wreak additional damage: impacting the wood products industry, harming tourism, decimating our mountain forests, and costing taxpayers billions.

 

Because of the dire threat that these pests pose to our forests, Great Smoky Mountains National Park currently only allows certified heat-treated firewood inside the park.  Campers must either gather wood inside the park or purchase certified heat-treated wood from over eighty local vendors.  The Council applauds these efforts to protect western North Carolina’s “crown jewel” which is also the most visited National Park in our nation.

 

Living in an increasingly connected world means that new forest pests will undoubtedly be introduced into the U.S. and North Carolina.  But we can take measures to prevent most of these introductions:

  • Don’t move firewood from other states.
  • If you are camping on public lands, consider using local wood or wood that is certified as being heat-treated (it burns hotter and cleaner anyway).
  • If you heat your home with firewood, please use firewood that is harvested locally.

And lastly, please pass the word to others that these pests pose a real threat to our forest.  You can learn more at DontMoveFirewood.org.

 

 

Jason Love, Chair

Western North Carolina Public Lands Council

 

Are pinecones bad to move like firewood?

Dear Don't Move Firewood,

Can I take pine cones with me when I travel?

Yours,

Pine Cone Lover

 

Dear Pine Cone Lover,

Pine cones can carry lots of pests of pine trees, so this is a good question.

 

When you talk about any sort of insect-spreading risk, it is important to be realistic to the actual threat. For instance, in all likelyhood, it is fine to take a few pine cones with you from the forest to your house or cabin for the purposes of table decorating. The chance that just a few cones could spread a pest or disease- especially if they are isolated in your house- is low. However, when you are done, the cones should be disposed of in the trash- not put outside in the backyard nor composted. By throwing them away in the trash, it becomes a lot less likely that pests of pines could emerge into the surrounding natural habitat later on.

 

In terms of moving large numbers of pine cones, that is not a good idea. Like I said before, many types of pests of pine can be found in cones- which you could then be exposing to pines in new places. Pests like the western conifer seed bug, various species of cone maggots, and others can emerge from cones. So please, don't move large amounts of pine cones- that's not a good idea and even could be in violations of quarantines in some areas.

 

Thanks for asking!

Exclusive Interview with the Emerald Ash Borer

Editors note: Don’t Move Firewood is thrilled to have scored this first-ever exclusive interview with an invasive forest pest, the emerald ash borer.

Q. Thanks for granting us this interview- I know you are really busy this time of year.

A. You’re welcome. Spring is my favorite season- I spend a lot of time on personal growth, and sometimes I get in a little traveling if I can. You know, camping trips, baseball

Q. Personal growth? Tell us more about that.

A. My life – it’s like a cycle, really – revolves around the seasons. By spring I’ve grown into a full sized larvae, ready to transition from within my ash tree into a glittering emerald adult beetle. And then I chew my way out into the warm air! It’s marvelous to be an insect in spring.

emerald ash borer mating on a leaf

(credit: Jared Spokowsky, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Bugwood.org)

Q. I see. We’re all quite excited for spring, I suppose. It has been a really tough winter.

A. Yes, I’m looking forward to the sunshine, flitting happily from tree to tree, finding just the right ash tree to infest with my many white grub-like offspring.

Q. Around here we’ve been pretty unhappy with just that- how you’ve been infesting ash trees and killing them. You are an invasive species, and basically once an ash tree is infested with multiple larvae, it dies. Do you have anything to say in your defense here?

A. I’m just a beetle- I don’t like to reflect on my own actions. I like to eat and procreate. Besides, it was you people that brought me to North America. Your mistake, your fault, now I’m your problem.

Q. That’s harsh. I don’t even know how to respond.

A. Yeah, and you want to know what? I’d still probably be confined to one state- just Michigan! – if you people hadn’t been transporting me and my larvae all around the nation on contaminated firewood. Sure, it was almost understandable before you discovered me and my brethren had invaded… back in 2002. But c’mon- its 2015 – you people are bringing this on yourself.

Q.  That’s why there’s the Don’t Move Firewood campaign. We’re working on it.

A.   Ugh- don’t talk about those horrible people and their “Don’t Move Firewood- Buy It Where You Burn It” message. Ruining my camping trips, my RV itinerary, my big plans. I was going to finally see the boulevards of Salt Lake City! The steep streets of San Francisco! The gorgeous riverbanks of Montana! But now people are starting to buy firewood locally- and I don’t get to go on nearly so many camping trips. It sucks. I hate them.

Q. Sounds like I really touched a nerve there. Let’s change the subject… Spring Training? You a Yankees fan? Sox?

A. Funny you mention it, I’m sort of blacklisted by those guys.

Q. Oh for pete’s… don’t tell me. You’ve been eating their bats, haven’t you.

A. I mean, I can’t eat baseball bat in the hand of a player, no. I’m not a termite. But I can destroy the entire forest that the bats come from, ensuring that America’s pastime has to depend entirely on imported wood or metal bats.  By the way, here’s a hot stock tip, sucker– invest in aluminum!  Hahaha… PING! Ohhhh, I kill me.

Q. That’s just mean. I can’t imagine baseball without the crack of a wooden bat –that’s the tradition, that’s the culture. That’s like saying we’d have to import apples for pie.

A. That’s just how I roll. I don’t care what you use the wood for- baseball bats, shading the streets of your towns, traditional basket weaving, whatever floats your boat. Oh, and boats! Ha! Ash is so flexible, great for building handmade boats. You’re… never asking me back for another interview, are you.

Q. No. You’re like talking to a movie villain. This is painful.

A. My pleasure.

 

Many thanks to Suzanne Jacob’s Meet the Invasives” Interview Series from Invasive Species Awareness Week, February 2015 on Grist.org, which served as the creative inspiration for this piece.

Planning an epic road trip!

Dear Don’t Move Firewood-

I’m getting ready for a big roadtrip- heading to Yellowstone, the Tetons, and then down into Utah for Zion, Arches- maybe even Escalante. Can I buy all my firewood in (hometown) Idaho, and then just use it as I go?

Signed, Excited Roadtripper!

Dear Roadtripper,

Sounds like an awesome trip, and I hope you have a great time. In the big Western states of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Utah, the state and federal groups generally advise using firewood from the same region as where you are burning it. For instance, when camping in Southern Utah, you should be burning firewood you got in central or southern Utah. But it isn’t advisable to be bringing firewood all the way from, say, northern Wyoming down to southern Utah. There are many forest pests- both native and non-native – that you could be accidentally transporting to a new area.

You might have noticed that some of your camping reservation slips have a warning message like this: “Some federal agencies have imposed quarantines on transporting firewood. Please check with your camping destination about firewood restrictions. Visit http://dontmovefirewood.org for more information.”

If so, the best suggestion is for you to go to our map at dontmovefirewood.org/map and check if the destination state lists regulations that might apply to your camping stay. If no regulations appear to apply, the recommendation is simple- buy firewood near where you’ll burn it, use it all before you leave your campsite, and don’t take it from park to park to park! Thanks for asking, and have an excellent roadtrip.

Related Blog: Nine National Park Firewood Policies