Iowa’s seen its share of quarantines on livestock over the years, but this marks the first time in state history wood is being quarantined in a single county.
Bill Northey, Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, says northeast Iowa’s Allamakee County is being segregated because a destructive insect has been found there which could wipe out the state’s population of ash trees.
Northey says conservation officers and D.N.R. staff will be checking out lumber, for starters.
“They will check firewood at campgrounds,” Northey says. “We depend on the public mostly to comply but there are penalties for not complying as well.”
An insect called the emerald ash borer was found in Allamakee County several weeks ago, along the Mississippi River, some two miles south of the Minnesota border.
Northey says the quarantine is only in effect for that single Iowa county, but everyone needs to be on guard not to move firewood and to only buy it where you’re going to use it. “It is tough to enforce,” Northey says. “We do visit different locations as well, and we certainly visit those folks that are managing timber that are producing lumber, folks that are producing nursery products. Generally, folks want to comply. They don’t want to spread this bug.”
Northey is also proposing an amendment to the Iowa Administrative Code that would require firewood sold or distributed in Iowa be identified by the country and state of origin. He says the emerald ash borer has to be contained as Iowa’s 88-million ash trees are threatened.
“It’s a nasty bug,” Northey says. “It doesn’t move very much by itself, only a mile or two a year, but if it hops onto some firewood or some lumber and gets moved a long ways, it could start a whole new infestation. Most folks realize that’s a dangerous thing.”
See full details of the quarantine on the Department’s website at “www.IowaAgriculture.gov” under the “Hot Topics” section.