In a brief notice posted online Wednesday July 25, the DEC repealed logging restrictions that had failed to contain the spread of the insect by limiting shipments of ash.
“Regulations are no longer serving the purpose of slowing the spread of Emerald Ash Borer or allowing time for municipal governments to plan for the arrival of Emerald Ash Borer," said the notice.
“The financial cost of the regulations to state government and the forest products industry now outweigh the limited economic benefit of protecting a dwindling ash resource from infestation,” the notice said. “Immediate repeal of these regulations will allow the forest products industry and forest landowners to harvest and process ash that is still of high quality.”
The state created the quarantine in 2015 to slow the insect, which threatens all North American ash trees: a population of about 8.7 billion. It’s already killed an estimated 50 million trees across North America.
Efforts to limit EAB’s scope have affected businesses that sell ash trees or wood products, property owners and governments. Economic impacts are high for urban and residential areas due to the treatment and removal costs, and decreased land value associated with dying trees. Costs for managing these trees often fall on homeowners or local districts.
Regulations remain in place against moving any ash wood infested with the Emerald Ash Borer, which is an invasive species killing ash trees. There is also still a prohibition in place against moving firewood more than 50 miles from its source.
In addition to implementing quarantines, efforts have been made to service logs of dead, infected trees into lumber and other wood products. Using a specialized heating chamber, researchers at Pennsylvania State University have discovered a way to kill destructive pests, such as the emerald ash border, in wood for pallets and other shipping components.
Ash is known for its staining potential and ability to mimic oak. It has great shock resistance, solid workability, and is low in price. It’s commonly used for tool handles, where toughness is important. The loss of ash from an ecosystem can result in increased numbers of invasive plants, changes in soil nutrients, and effects on species that feed on ash. The loss to an economy can be devastating.
The 8.7 billion ash trees in North America are valued at more than $280 billion. Ash trees are especially abundant in eastern forests, but real diversity is actually in the southwestern U.S., where at least eight of 16 native ash species are present.