The state is considering a quarantine on lumber, logs and firewood from ash trees to slow the spread of a destructive beetle responsible for killing tens of millions of ash species throughout North America.
Details are still being worked out, but an announcement about an ash quarantine is expected in the coming weeks, an official with the state Department of Environmental Conservation said Wednesday.
“It’s likely,” said Maureen Wren, a spokeswoman for the DEC, “and we’ve been saying that from the beginning to ensure we let the stakeholders know it was a possibility.”
New York has an estimated 900 million ash trees, accounting for 7 percent of the state’s entire tree population.
In June, the tiny Emerald Ash Borer was discovered in at least 30 trees in Randolph, Cattaraugus County — New York’s first confirmed case of the invasive Asian beetle.
Since then, the DEC has been getting input from other agencies, as well as industries that rely on the popular hardwood for business.
“Once we receive feedback from all these groups, we would determine the size and extent of the quarantine,” Wren said.
Generally, a quarantine would limit the movement of ash timber, logs, firewood or other ash products that may harbor the insect.
Businesses such as nurseries, landscapers, loggers, sawmills and firewood retailers would obviously be impacted, but generally have been cooperative because it’s in their best interest to protect the state’s ash trees from widespread infestation.
The DEC, meanwhile, is trying to get a better handle on the extent of the Emerald Ash Borer population in the state.
Some 1,300 traps have been set up within a seven-mile radius around the Randolph area, and crews will revisit those traps starting next week.
Statewide, some 6,000 traps have been set up to monitor the spread of the beetles.
"So far, though, there have been no other confirmed cases in New York", Wren said.
“Not to date,” she said Wednesday.
An informational meeting Tuesday at the Randolph Fire Hall attracted more than 150 people, according to the DEC.
The Emerald Ash Borer, a half-inch beetle with metallic green wing covers and a coppery red or purple abdomen, likely came to the United States in wood packing crates carried on cargo ships and planes from its native Asia.
It first was detected in 2002 near Detroit and has killed an estimate 70 million ash trees as it spread to 13 states.
The beetles lay eggs on ash bark. The eggs hatch into larvae, which feed below the bark and create S-shaped tunnels that disrupt the transport of water and nutrients to the tree. The branches, and eventually the entire tree, die.