Residents warned not to transport wood into other counties

By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

Whitewater is the latest Wisconsin community to have the unwelcome guest known as the emerald ash borer beetle.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (WDATCP) announced the news last week and has put a number of safeguards in place for Walworth and Jefferson counties.

After a series of tests, City Forester Charles Nass said the presence of the destructive insect was confirmed in the 700 block of West Main Street within the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus. The discovery was forwarded on to the WDATCP for further analysis.

Traces of the beetle have been discovered throughout Wisconsin, primarily in the southeastern region, and WDATCP has been responding by instituting so-called quarantines within affected counties.

By law, wood products within quarantined counties cannot leave the borders – an effort, according to WDATCP, designed to mitigate the spread of infestation to counties without a trace of the beetle.

Residents in quarantined counties cannot transport such items as firewood to non-quarantined counties. Businesses handling wood products need to work with a WDATCP official before shipping items outside a quarantined county.

Walworth County had already been under quarantine. But with the City of Whitewater straddling Walworth and Jefferson counties, WDATCP on July 5 announced Jefferson County would be added to the quarantine list.

The beetle was technically discovered in the Walworth County portion of Whitewater – 750 yards from the county line – but the close proximity of the confirmation led WDATCP to issue the quarantine for Jefferson County.

“What we have found is enough to tell us that emerald ash borer is, in all likelihood, present in Jefferson County,” Brian Kuhn, plant industry bureau director with WDATCP, said in a statement.

“The insects will spread naturally at a slow rate,” Kuhn added. “But we’re taking steps to try to prevent humans from speeding up that spread, or allowing emerald ash borer to leapfrog to new areas by being carried on firewood or other products.”

Nass said he favored the latest precautionary measures in the hopes of preserving tree stock in Whitewater.

“The emerald ash borer is a major threat to Wisconsin’s trees,” Nass said. “Once present in an area, the (beetle) kills all untreated ash trees within a few years. Even young, healthy ash trees are killed within 3 to 5 years of infestation.”

Whitewater residents with ash trees can take a number of proactive steps to help mitigate the insect’s destruction on ash trees. The WDATCP recommends consulting with a professional arborist and viewing comprehensive information available on the state agency’s website, www.emeraldashborer.wi.gov.

Kuhn recommends properties within 15 miles of known infestations consider preventative treatments while weighing a number of factors, including the age, size and number of ash trees within a property.

“Whenever making choices for emerald ash borer prevention and treatment, homeowners and commercial industries should review the latest research and decision making tools available,” Nass added.

Jefferson is the 16th Wisconsin county to be under quarantine. In addition to Walworth, the other 15 counties are Brown, Crawford, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Rock, Sheboygan, Trempealeau, Vernon, Washington and Waukesha.

 
 

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