State agriculture officials want travelers to remember the risk of spreading emerald ash borer through firewood. Just in time for the start of the summer tourism season, the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has declared it Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week.
Spokesperson Donna Gilson says the beetles can travel a mile or two on their own. But humans have helped them spread much farther.
“Human beings have been the emerald ash borer’s best friend. You know we had an infestation in southeastern Wisconsin and another one in western Wisconsin. So obviously it didn’t spread that far on its own without leaving anything in between.”
Emerald ash borer has been found in 20 Wisconsin counties. The beetle burrows under the bark of ash trees and cuts off the tree’s circulation of nutrients.
Despite some predictions that the cold winter would slow the spread of the emerald ash borer, Gilson says she doesn’t think the Wisconsin populations will see much of an impact.
“Down here especially in the southern half of the state, we didn’t have the cold enough temperatures for long enough period to kill them. And it possibly weakened them a little, knocked them back – but it’s not going to make a significant difference in Wisconsin.”
Firewood cannot legally be moved out of quarantine counties that have the emerald ash borer.
The Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest requires firewood come from within a 25 mile radius. State campgrounds restrict firewood purchases even further to within 10 miles.