Minnesota will Continue Emerald Ash Borer Regulations

Federal deregulation of the insect leaves states to determine future options

Minnesota will continue regulation of emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive insect that kills ash trees, after federal officials today announced deregulation of the insect effective January 14, 2021.

Since 2002, when EAB was first discovered in the United States in Michigan, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has limited the spread of the insect through the use of quarantines, permits, and compliance agreements that regulated the movement of wood which may contain the insect. Now 35 states, including Minnesota, are infested with EAB. This led the USDA to reevaluate its role and make today’s announcement.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), which leads state efforts to monitor for and curb the spread of destructive insects, has regulated EAB since it was first found in Minnesota in 2009. The MDA will continue its work monitoring for EAB in un-infested areas, quarantining newly infested counties, and regulating movement of wood products around the state. The department will also take on some of the work previously carried out by the USDA by limiting the movement of ash and firewood from other states into Minnesota.

“We met extensively with the forest products industry, nursery industry, and local and tribal governments regarding their concerns about possible federal deregulation of EAB,” said Minnesota Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Whitney Place. “There was strong interest in maintaining regulations here in Minnesota and we intend to do that for the sake of our urban and natural forests.”

Emerald ash borer is a major threat to Minnesota’s approximately one billion ash trees – the most of any state. However, MDA officials believe they have been able to slow the impact of EAB thanks to quarantines that limit the movement of ash and firewood out of infested counties.

“Currently, 25 of Minnesota’s 87 counties are infested with emerald ash borer,” said Mark Abrahamson, director of the MDA’s Plant Protection Division. “That rate of spread across the state in 11 years is 60% slower than most states infested with EAB. Our efforts here have proven effective and it’s important we continue this work.”

Residents and tree care professionals should check if their county is under quarantine for EAB and abide by the regulations. That information can be found on the MDA website at www.mda.state.mn.us/eab. The MDA also encourages all Minnesotans to limit the movement of firewood around the state, which can easily carry the insect to new areas.

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