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Lake Geneva Chiropractic

A different kind of tree hugger

June 16, 2010 | 07:53 AM
In 2008, Wisconsin's forestry interests went on high alert when the first known presence of the Emerald Ash Borer was discovered in Washington and Ozaukee counties.

In 2009, more were found in the southeastern community of Franklin, along with Brown and Crawford counties. This year, more have been identified in West Bend, as well as Vernon County. While small in size, these creatures can have a devastating impact on Wisconsin's 770 million native ash trees, which is 7 percent of the total tree population, and 20 percent of the urban tree population.

The Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive wood boring beetle that feeds on the tissues under the bark of ash trees, and kills them. The metallic green beetle is native to East Asia and was accidentally imported to the United States within the wood of shipping crates from China. EAB was first discovered in North America near Detroit in 2002, and since then, the beetle has spread to several eastern and Midwestern states, including Wisconsin. While not harmful to humans, they are a death sentence for Wisconsin's forests, particularly in urban settings.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, the beetle can only fly a few miles; however, it can be easily transported to new areas when inadvertently moved inside of infested firewood, ash nursery stock, and other ash items. A tree attacked by EAB can die within two to four years, and it is estimated more than 50 million ash trees are dead or dying in the Midwest because of this insect.

Thus, it is important to understand what you can do to prevent its movement from various parts of the state, especially during these warm summer months.

Last year, the state adopted permanent rules regarding the transport of firewood, in an effort to educate the public of their role in combating this problem. Wisconsin is a wonderful place to camp, and campers both in and out of state should be aware of some very basic steps they can take to prevent moving EAB. You should purchase aged firewood near or within your campground, and use it all during your camping vacation. Make sure you receive pieces that are dry and have either no bark or bark that is loose. Most importantly, do not take it with you to another campground.

Campers from outside of Wisconsin should not bring firewood into the state, and campers who reside in Wisconsin should not bring firewood that has been stored, purchased, or harvested, from counties currently under quarantine for EAB. If you are bringing it from elsewhere in Wisconsin, only use firewood from a source within 25 miles of where you will use it. But again, the safest course is to purchase and use firewood from within the campground where you are staying. It should be noted the money spent in those sites is reinvested directly into those parks for upkeep and maintenance.

Several state agencies, including the University of Wisconsin, have taken steps to survey and monitor EAB throughout the state, including the placement of numerous bright purple traps in various communities. Unfortunately, much of the effort is reactive, as their movement is very difficult to track. That is why public involvement is critical to stopping the spread and preventing an outbreak similar to what occurred in Wisconsin years ago when Dutch Elm disease swept through many communities and leveled thousands of long-standing trees.

If your summer plans include camping in the great Wisconsin outdoors, please remember these very simply guidelines for your campfire. The Emerald Ash Borer is a very real threat to forests and parks, and we can only hope our combined efforts will put a stop to these deadly invaders — knock on wood. If you would like more information, you may visit the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Web site at datcp.state.wi.us/ or contact my office anytime.

Kedzie can be reached in Madison at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI, 53707-7882, or by calling toll-free (800) 578-1457. He may be reached in the district at (262) 742-2025 or on-line at www.senatorkedzie.com.

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Taste of Wisconsin