September 4, 2009

Campers urged to contain spread of pests

Campers and travelers should burn wood where they buy it to reduce the risk of transporting damaging pests to new areas, scientists in Ohio recommend.

Ohio State University's Burn It Where You Buy It program is aimed at reducing the spread of the Emerald ash borer and other invasive pests that hitch a ride in firewood, the university said in a release.

The ash borer, a beetle from Asia, spread to North America in wood packaging materials in the 1990s and since has killed at least 70 million ash trees in two Canadian provinces and 12 U.S. states, including Ohio, Michigan, Maryland and Illinois, said Amy Stone, coordinator of Ohio State's Emerald Ash Borer Outreach Team. The beetle also has reached Minnesota.

If not eradicated or contained, the borer potentially could cost state and local governments in the United States $7 billion during the next 25 years to remove and replace dead and dying ash trees, she said.