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Transportation of untreated wood restricted; campers help needed

ALBANY New York has taken new efforts to stop the influx and spread of tree-killing pests such as the Emerald Ash Borer, Asian Longhorned Beetle and Sirex Wood Wasp by restricting the importation, transportation and sale of untreated firewood, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today. The action closely follows measures imposed by Pennsylvania and other states to stem the proliferation of invasive species that can wipe out trees in forests and neighborhoods. Many exotic pests can be transported long distances unintentionally via human activity especially the hauling of firewood. To limit this possibility, effective immediately New York will prohibit the importation of out-of-state firewood that has not been treated to eliminate invasive species, fungi and pathogens that can kill millions of trees. The regulations also limit the transportation of untreated firewood within the state to less than 50 miles from the point of origin. These invasive pests and diseases have a damaging effect, not only on the environment but also the economy, Grannis said. One of the easiest and most common ways for these pests to spread is by the unintentional transportation of infested firewood. These regulations will combat that by reducing the accidental chauffeuring of these threats. To help the effort, the states immediate emphasis will be on public outreach and education, to raise awareness of the dangers of moving firewood. We know campers and private campground owners have the forests best interest at heart too, Grannis said. No one wants to see tree-less campgrounds or city streets, or face the costs of removing and replacing dead trees. We all share the responsibility to protect our parks and forests from the serious risks of invasive species carried on firewood, said Commissioner Carol Ash, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. We urge all campers to leave their firewood at home and instead use firewood from local sources. By taking this simple step, we can slow the spread of disease and protect our precious natural resources for generations to come. These new measures, available at: www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/2359.html, are emergency regulations, effective for 90 days. Meanwhile, DEC will be submitting a formal rulemaking proposal to the Governors Office of Regulatory Reform (GORR) for review. GORRs approval would initiate a public-involvement process leading to a permanent firewood regulation. Notably, the regulations do not affect homeowners cutting wood on their own property for use on that same property. They also do not affect firewood being transported through New York for sale and use in another state. The action to step up protections of forests across New York has attracted widespread support from the forest industry, campground owners, environmental groups and other states. We commend Commissioner Grannis and the DEC for taking this proactive approach to reducing the spread of invasive species, said Kathy Moser, Acting State Director of The Nature Conservancy in New York. When firewood is transported to campsites and vacation homes from other areas, invasive species can be introduced and devastate native habitats. Through DECs action, the health of New York's forests and citizens as well as economic and tourism opportunities will be protected. We have been working with the DEC to help spread the word about the potential dangers we are facing involving invasive pests in our trees. It is important that we act now as a preventative measure rather than wait and have to react once the threat is upon us, said Scott Sherwood, president of the Campground Owners of New York, the association that represents privately owned campgrounds in the state. Some 60,000 New Yorkers earn a paycheck and support their families by working in New York's forests and forest products industry. These people are deeply concerned about the health of our forest, said Kevin King, president of the Empire State Forest Products Association. There are a number of invasive species threatening our forest today and it is critical that government and the forest products industry act to address these challenges. We look forward to acting in partnership with DEC to protect the health and viability of New York's forests. The spread of invasive forest pest is a major concern for all woodlands owners, said Mary Jeanne Packer, Executive Director of New York Forest Owners Association. Our organization, representing more than 2,500 forest owners throughout the state, looks forward to working with the DEC to educate the public about the needs to limit the movement of firewood to protect the states magnificent forest resources. This is a bold, yet necessary step, for which Commissioner Grannis should be commended. All visitors to the Adirondack Park should be especially careful to avoid bringing in firewood," said Brian L. Houseal, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council, a not-for-profit environmental research, education and advocacy organization. Buy it from Adirondackers when you get here. It's cheap and plentiful and you will be helping the local economy. If these insects get here, they will be very difficult to control on the public Adirondack Forest Preserve. Further, constitutional prohibitions against logging and destruction of timber will limit what state officials can do to stop the infestation. If infestations spread to any of our large old-growth forests, where no logging has ever occurred, it would be tragic to watch 10,000-year-old forests die off. This action will go far to protect forest health, said Michael Washburn, Executive Director of the Residents Committee to protect the Adirondacks. We hope this will raise the public awareness of the threats to our forest resources posed by invasive species. New York should be applauded for its efforts to limit the unrestricted movement of firewood, said Cara Boucher, Acting Michigan State Forester. In Michigan, we have directly attributed new outbreaks of Emerald Ash Borer infestations, far from the original site, to the movement of infested firewood -- some as far away as West Virginia. Taking action now can help delay, or spare, New York from the kinds of devastating consequences we have witnessed in Michigan. We welcome New York State's efforts to limit the spread of infested firewood, said Steve Koehn, Maryland State Forester. We have seen in Maryland and elsewhere the devastating affects that invasive forest insects have had on our forest resources. Taking steps now can help our forests, and our economy, to avoid the consequences that have plagued Maryland and other regions of the country. BACKGROUND New York's forests are under attack from numerous invasive exotic pests and diseases. In years past, the state has been hit with Chestnut blight, European gypsy moth, Dutch elm disease and Beech bark disease, all with destructive results. More recently, the state has discovered Asian long-horned beetles, Hemlock wooly adelgids, Pine shoot beetles and Sirex wood wasps infesting urban and rural forests and killing thousands of trees. Another potentially troubling insect invader, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), has been moving east from Michigan and was found last year in Pennsylvania. This Asian beetle, discovered in 2002, infests and kills various North American ash species 30 million trees so far in Michigan alone. Death often occurs rapidly for the tree, within two to three years, depending on the level of infestation. Most long-distance movement of EAB now found in seven states -- has been directly traced to ash firewood or ash nursery stock. New York has been taking several actions over the past several years, such as cooperating with NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on surveying and monitoring efforts aimed at early detection of this insect. For the past several years, the state has deployed baited traps and established "trap trees" in an attempt to determine if EAB is present in our forests. Last year, the state initiated a major outreach and information campaign aimed at users of state campgrounds alerting them to the dangers of moving firewood, asking them not to move firewood, and to buy firewood locally instead. Currently, there is no simple way to get rid of the Emerald Ash Borer other than razing infected trees. The movement restriction would apply to firewood for sale or use in New York. Firewood cut on ones own property, for personal use on that same property, is not regulated. Persons who cut and transport firewood for their own use (not for sale) may move that firewood no more than 50 miles from its source, and must have a Self-Issued Certificate of Source, available from the Departments website, or any DEC office.

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