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Maryland has ongoing effort to fight beetle that kills ash trees

May 20, 2008

ANNAPOLIS - Gov. Martin O'Malley has declared May 18 to 24 to be Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week in Maryland.

The proclamation is part of an ongoing effort to inform residents about ways to help stop the spread of the emerald ash borer, a destructive pest that kills ash trees. The focus of the campaign is to encourage campers, anglers, scouts and other outdoor enthusiasts to leave firewood at home, buy it at their destination and burn it completely. Since ash is used to make baseball bats, part of the awareness effort will be a summer-long campaign with the Bowie Baysox, starting with promotions at the May 24 and May 28 home games.

As part of the state's effort to stop the spread of the pest, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is discouraging campers and other visitors from bringing outside firewood onto its properties. The Department will be notifying campers of the restriction when reservations are made and by notices posted at the properties. Personnel will be able to direct visitors to local sources of firewood and require campers to burn all firewood transported to a DNR property.

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The beetle was introduced to Southern Prince George's County in 2003 after a Michigan nurseryman illegally shipped infested ash trees in violation of a quarantine in that state.

This winter, nearly 12,000 ash trees were removed from neighborhoods and forests near Clinton and Brandywine. A year ago, another 25,000 ash trees were cut from the area. An ongoing surveillance program is in place to determine if the eradication efforts are successful. Purple-colored traps are now being hung in Allegany, Garrett, Anne Arundel, Prince George's, Charles, Calvert, St. Mary's, Montgomery, and Howard counties as one way to determine the presence of EAB.

"Because in Maryland the emerald ash borer is found only in Southern Prince George's County, our focus is to stop firewood from leaving the county; in fact, it is illegal under a state quarantine to take firewood or any ash products out of the county," said Agriculture Secretary Roger Richardson. "The beetle can only move a short distance on its own but it and others like it can move hundreds of miles on infested firewood."

The emerald ash borer is responsible for the loss of more than 30 million trees in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana where it has become established. USDA has estimated that losses could reach almost $300 million in the Baltimore area alone if the beetle were left unchecked. In Maryland, ash is the most common street tree in Baltimore, making up about 10 percent of total trees. Ash accounts for more than three percent of trees in naturally wooded area in Baltimore and surrounding counties. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources also estimates that about 20 percent of our streamside trees, vital to the health of the Chesapeake Bay, are ash trees.

Log onto www.emeraldashborer.info to learn more about the emerald ash borer and ways that everyone can help stop its spread. Maryland residents and property owners can call the University of Maryland Home and Garden Information center toll-free at 800-342- 2507 or the Maryland Department of Agriculture at 410-841-5902 to report dying ash trees or for help identifying a possible emerald ash borer.

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