Minnesota agriculture officials have modified the state quarantine issued in Hennepin, Ramsey and Houston counties designed to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer (EAB) tree pest. A temporary emergency quarantine was established in June when EAB was discovered in or near these counties.
Officials have now formalized the quarantine as it became necessary to implement long-term restrictions on the movement of firewood, ash trees, and ash tree products out of these counties.
The quarantine prohibits the movement of the following items out of Ramsey, Hennepin and Houston counties:
_Entire ash trees.
_Ash limbs and branches.
_Ash stumps and roots.
_Ash chips and ash bark chips.
_Firewood of any non-coniferous (hardwood) species.
Any person violating these quarantine regulations is subject to civil penalties up to $7,500 per day per violation or misdemeanor or criminal penalties. Businesses may enter into compliance agreements with the state to allow them to move prohibited items, but only if the items are treated or handled in accordance with state specifications.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Plant Protection Director Geir Friisoe said the quarantine is an important step in slowing the spread of the emerald ash borer and protecting Minnesota's 900 million ash trees from this highly destructive insect.
"We're working with homeowners, tree care companies and firewood dealers, among others to control the movement of potentially infested articles out of the quarantined area," said Friisoe. "And we also want to remind all Minnesotans that they too can help prevent the spread of EAB."
Even in counties not covered by these quarantines, officials urge all Minnesotans to follow common-sense steps to keep EAB from spreading:
_Don't transport firewood. Don't bring firewood along on a camping trip, and use it where you buy it.
_Don't buy or move firewood from outside your area for use in your home.
_Watch for signs of infestation in your ash trees. If you suspect an infestation, use the "Do I Have Emerald Ash Borer?" checklist on the MDA's EAB web page at http://www.mda.state.mn.us.
You can also contact your local extension service office or a tree care company with a certified arborist on staff.
Since its accidental introduction into North America, EAB has killed millions of ash trees in 13 states from New York to Missouri.
For more information, visit the MDA website at www.mda.state.mn.us/invasives/eab or call the state's Arrest the Pest Hotline at (651) 201-6684; toll-free 1-888-545-6684.