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Illinois Firewood: Buy Local, Burn Local to Stop a Pesky Bug

PHOTO: State leaders say over 20 million ash trees in Illinois are either dead, dying, or have been infested by the emerald ash borer. Photo courtesy U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
PHOTO: State leaders say over 20 million ash trees in Illinois are either dead, dying, or have been infested by the emerald ash borer. Photo courtesy U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
May 23, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – This Memorial Day weekend, many Illinoisans will enjoy time outdoors and perhaps around a campfire.

And state leaders are asking them to do their part to stop the spread of the emerald ash borer.

It's the prime time of year for movement of the bug that has invaded millions of ash trees in the Midwest.

Scott Schirmer, emerald ash borer program manager with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, says more than 40 counties are under quarantine to prevent the bug from spreading as people move firewood they don't realize is infested.

"The amount of residents and the volume of people that could potentially be moving firewood for weekend usage or camping trips – or even just taking a load of dead wood from their house to their brother's house or something, if it's across state lines – that's where the major risk is," he explains.

The emerald ash borer is a small, metallic-green beetle native to Asia that was first discovered in Illinois in 2006.

Schirmer says since then, it has infested more than 20 million ash trees in the state, many of which have died.

Schirmer has a simple tip when it comes to using firewood.

"Buy local, burn local,” he says. “So, if you're going to Wisconsin for a weekend, they have plenty of firewood up there – buy it when you get there, and don't bring it back to Illinois and vice versa. "

Schirmer also suggests homeowners check their trees for signs of damage from the emerald ash borer.

"If the trees are looking like they're leafing out fully, and nice and green, it's a good sign,” he says. “If they're struggling, if they're not leafing out, if there are bare spots in it or the leaves are coming out small or slowly, that may be a good indicator that something's happening in the tree."

Anyone who suspects an ash tree has been infested can contact the Illinois Department of Agriculture, which is monitoring conditions around the state.



Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL