Quarantine in effect to contain beetle

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A quarantine has been put into effect on the movement of ash and firewood in New Haven County to limit the spread of the emerald ash borer, a beetle (pictured above) that kills ash trees. –RA ARCHIVE

PROSPECT — The director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station imposed a quarantine Thursday on the movement of ash and firewood in New Haven County to limit the spread of a tiny green beetle that kills ash trees.

Director Louis Magnarelli told a packed room of at least 150 people at the Prospect Firehouse Wednesday night that the quarantine will not eradicate the emerald ash borer, but it will help contain it.

Magnarelli, with a panel of state and federal experts, revealed details about the quarantine and provided a status update of the pest’s presence in the state.

People in attendance included state and local town officials, residents, arborists and others who work in the tree industry.

Several tree service owners asked about the definition of firewood, exactly what can be moved, and how it can be moved in or outside the regulated area.

The emerald ash borer is just about as long as a grain of rice, and has been discovered in Prospect, Naugatuck, Beacon Falls and Bethany in New Haven County.

The bug represents a threat to the state’s more than 20 million ash trees. The infestation also poses possible dangers to public safety, property and commerce, and power lines, Magnarelli said.

He said the quarantine could not be implemented until after the hearing was held Wednesday evening.

The quarantine will regulate the movement of ash nursery stock, ash green lumber, ash wood-packing material, entire ash trees, ash limbs and branches, and ash logs or untreated ash lumber with bark attached.

It will remain in effect until rescinded by Magnarelli.

He said a federal quarantine will follow in eight weeks.

The quarantine is five pages long. Under the state quarantine, all regulated matter is prohibited to leave New Haven County, except under certain conditions.

Magnarelli said there also will be a two-tiered permit process, one for simple instances and another more specialized.

For example, all firewood pieces have to be treated to leave the county. It has to be treated in one of four ways, removal of the bark and an additional half inch of wood; kiln sterilization; fumigation; or heat treatment.

Another hearing will be held in the future on proposed emergency regulations.

Proposed regulations had been submitted to the legislature’s Regulation Review Committee last month, but the committee could not act because the two agencies did not fill out all the required paperwork.

The proposed regulations have been resubmitted. They were expected to take effect Thursday once filed with the Secretary of the State’s office, said Kenneth Collette, an adjudicator in the office of adjudications with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The committee approved regulations in 2010 targeting the emerald ash borer and the more dangerous Asian long-horned beetle.

Those regulations permit the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station to restrict or prohibit the movement of infested nursery stock, cut logs, firewood or other listed items from infested regions.

The insect was first discovered in 2002 in Michigan.

Connecticut is the 16th state to have been found with the insect, said Patricia Douglass, state plant health director for Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

For more information on the quarantine of ash trees in New Haven County, visit the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station’s website at www.ct.gov/caes.