The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced it has proposed making permanent a regulation to restrict the import, sale and transport of untreated firewood to aid in the fight against the spread of tree-killing pests and diseases. A public-comment period on DEC’s proposal runs through Feb. 9, 2009. DEC encourages interested parties to weigh in on the proposal – which can be viewed on the DEC website — at two public hearings or through written comments.
“Invasive pests and diseases damage both the environment and the economy,” said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis. “No one wants to see our trees destroyed, visit tree-less campgrounds or face the costs of removing and replacing dead trees. By taking proactive measures, we can reduce the risks of the inadvertent introduction of invasive and destructive pests and further protect our forests, woodlands and urban trees.”
“New York’s beautiful parks and campgrounds are at risk from invasive insects and diseases that are easily transported with firewood,” said Carol Ash, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner. “For more than a year, we have been working with DEC on an aggressive outreach program to inform our patrons of the risks involved with transporting firewood. It is imperative that that the camping community recognizes the seriousness of this issue and acts responsibly.”
New York’s forests are under attack from numerous invasive insect pests. Over the years, the state has been hit with Chestnut blight, European gypsy moth, Dutch elm disease and Beech bark disease, all with devastating results. More recently, DEC has discovered Asian long-horned beetles and Hemlock wooly adelgids infesting urban and rural forests and killing thousands of trees. Another potentially devastating insect invader, the Emerald Ash Borer, has been moving east from Michigan and has been found in Pennsylvania and near Montreal, Canada.
One of the easiest and most common ways for these pests to spread is by the unintentional transportation of infested firewood. Insects nesting in logs can hitchhike hundreds of miles, then escape to infect new timber stands.
During the camping season earlier this year, New York adopted an emergency regulation that banned the import and limited the movement of untreated firewood. DEC now has proposed to make the regulation permanent.
Under the regulation, only firewood cured by heating to a core temperature of 71 degrees Celsius (160 degrees Fahrenheit) for 75 minutes can be moved without restriction. The regulation restricts intrastate movement of untreated firewood to no more than a 50-mile radius from its source. The emergency regulation won praise from the forest products industry, environmental groups and campground owners (http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/44364.html).
Written comments and comments made at the public meetings are treated equally. The hearings are slated for:
Jan., 14, 2009, 7-9 p.m.
Pine Bush Discovery Center
195 New Karner Road
Jan. 20, 2009, 7-9 p.m.
Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center
93 Honorine Drive
Written comments regarding the proposal can be submitted in two ways:
Mail: Bruce Williamson, NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233
For more information about the emergency firewood regulation, go to the DEC website.
The DEC web site also features a Frequently Asked Questions page about the firewood movement issue, a Nuisance and Invasive Species page and an Emerald Ash Borer page.
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