•Emergency quarantine on wood movement put in place for Pope County

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has confirmed emerald ash borer (EAB) in Pope County for the first time. 

County Ag Inspector Barry Bouwman was contacted to check several declining ash trees with woodpecker holes on a landowner’s property in Glenwood Township before Memorial Day and contacted the MDA to investigate.

Based on a May 30 site visit by the MDA and subsequent specimen testing, MDA officials have confirmed the presence of emerald ash borer in an ash tree on privately-owned land in Glenwood Township near the Glenwood Town Hall.

Because this is the first time EAB has been identified in Pope County, the MDA is enacting an emergency quarantine of the county. The quarantine limits the movement of firewood and ash tree material out of the area.

Virtual informational meeting set

An informational meeting for residents will be held on-line June 20 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Experts from the MDA will give a brief presentation followed by a question and answer session. Residents may register for the meeting at www.mda.state.mn.us/eab.

The MDA is taking comments on the proposed formal quarantine now through July 26, 2024. The proposed quarantine language can be found at www.mda.state.mn.us/eab. Comments may be made at the virtual meeting or by contacting Kimberly Thielen Cremers, MDA, 625 Robert Street North, St. Paul, MN 55155. It recommends adopting the quarantine on July 29, 2024.

A quarantine covers the EAB insect itself, as well as ash logs, ash tree waste, ash chips and mulch and all non-coniferous firewood.

EAB was first discovered in Minnesota in 2009. The insect larvae kill ash trees by tunneling under the bark and feeding on part of the tree that moves nutrients up and down the trunk. Often trees will show several signs of infestation because of this, according to MDA.

There are now 52 counties in Minnesota with EAB.

According to the MDA woodpeckers like to feed on EAB larvae, and woodpecker holes may indicate the presence of EAB. Also EAB tunneling can cause the bark to split open revealing characteristic S-shaped galleries underneath.

Ralph Hanson, Land Use Specialist with the office of Pope County Land Use Management, said that normally emerald ash borers spread slowly. Normally, he said, transporting wood is the reason they spread more quickly and that is the largest cause of spreading.

Hanson recommended people sign up for access to the July 20 meeting. “It will be more in depth about what people should be looking for,” he said.

There are ways to deal with EAB according to the MDA. Trees can be removed with a recommended time of fall or early winter.

There are also chemical treatments that can be used to treat an infected tree. These can involve injection into the tree trunk or a chemical spread around the base of the tree where it  gets into the root system. Some of these can be done by property owners but the MDA recommends that only for trees with a circumference of 45 inches or less (which translates into a diameter of 14” or less).

Larger trees can be protected but the MDA recommends that be done by a professional.

The issue with tree treatment is that most treatments last one to two years or slightly more.

Hanson recommended people sign up for the MDA meeting to learn what to be looking for in their own ash trees. After that meeting people with questions may call Hanson at 320-634-7794 or county ag inspector Bouwman at 320-424-0194.

How it spreads

EAB is an insect that attacks and kills ash trees. It is spread through short distance natural flight and infested firewood transported long distance. The adults are small, iridescent green beetles that live outside of trees during the summer months. The larvae are grub or worm-like and live underneath the bark of ash trees. Trees are killed by the tunneling of the larvae under the tree’s bark.

For more information on Emerald Ash Borer, best practices, or the quarantine placed on Pope County, visit the Minnesota Department of Agriculture website on Emerald Ash Borer at: https://www.mda.state.mn.us/eab.