The Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa State University and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship last week held a press conference to ask Iowans to help fight the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer, a new insect pest that feeds on ash trees and eventual kills them.
The movement of out-of-state firewood to and through Iowa poses the greatest threat to spread Emerald Ash Borer to Iowa's ash trees. Areas currently suffering from an infestation are under federal and state quarantines, but unknowing campers or others that transport firewood can spark an outbreak.
Infestation could devastate Iowa trees
"Prevention is still our best defense against a potentially devastating infestation," says Rich Leopold, director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. He is confident that if citizens are diligent in preventing the spread of this insect pest, damage can be minimized in Iowa."
Emerald Ash Borer is the most serious threat to Iowa's tree population since Dutch elm disease more than 30 years ago," says Bill Northey, state agriculture secretary at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. "It's important that all citizens are aware of this pest, and that they do what they can to slow the spread of this pest."
"ISU Extension insect and tree experts have been working with the Iowa forestry industry and Iowa citizens through surveillance and educational efforts to prepare Iowans to quickly recognize this pest and the signs that it has infested a tree," adds Gerald Miller, ISU Associate Dean of Agriculture and also ISU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Director.
What you can do to help fight this pest
Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week ran from May 20 – 26 and is being used to reach out to Iowans about what they can do to help fight the spread of the pest.
The borer has already been found in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Maryland and in Canada. In Michigan alone, 25 million ash trees are dead or dying from this insect. Emerald Ash Borer has not yet been found in Iowa, but at risk are approximately 15 million urban ash trees and 50 million rural ash trees.
The potential, worst case scenario for removing and replacing trees in Iowa's urban areas is estimated as high as $7.5 billion.
Signs and other informational materials will be put up at campgrounds across the state this year to educate campers about the danger posed by Emerald Ash Borer and educate them on steps they can take to help fight this destructive pest.
For more information Iowans can visit www.emeraldashborer.info or contact ISU Extension at 515-294-5963, the Iowa Department of Agriculture at 515-725-1470 or the Iowa Department of Natural Resources at 515-242-5966.