With camping season set to begin, it's time to talk firewood and its role in preventing the spread of the emerald ash borer, a destructive invasive species that has been found in Monroe County.
Members of the Monroe County Emerald Ash Borer Task Force are trying to reinforce a simple message: don't transport firewood from one part of the state to another. That's a practice essential to preventing the spread of invasive insects like the ash borer to new parts of the state, they say.
"We can stop this thing pretty much in its tracks," says June Summers, president of the Genesee Valley Audubon Society and a citizen member of the task force.
Monroe County had its first confirmed emerald ash borer infestation in 2010; it's one of several New York counties where the beetle's presence is certain. The first Monroe infestation was found in the Town of Chili. Walt Nelson, the horticulture leader at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Monroe County, says the infestations are radiating out slowly from Chili's southeast corner.
There are active infestations in Riga, Chili, and Henrietta, Summers says. And in 2011, the City of Rochester found and addressed an infestation at a park on St. Paul Street.
But most of New York's forests haven't been hit by the ash borer. And state environmental regulations prohibit moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source; treated firewood is heated to kill any hangers-on. The regulations are meant to protect against several invasive species including the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, Sirex woodwasp, and hemlock woolly adelgid.