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Quarantine imposed to slow ash borer

All ash trees, bark, wood in urban areas must stay there

Ottawa Citizen April 29, 2009

Emerald Ash Borer

All ash trees, bark, wood, firewood, chips, boards and leaves in the urban areas of Ottawa-Gatineau were put under quarantine by the federal Department of Agriculture Tuesday in an attempt to slow the spread of a beetle that threatens to annihilate the species in North America.

The order prohibits anyone from taking even a bit of ash beyond the prescribed boundary, provides for fines and prosecution if you are caught doing so, and tasks Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspectors with enforcing the quarantine, including roadside checks.

The move is the latest measure designed to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer, a fast-moving beetle that has devastated large sections of forest in southern Ontario and the U.S., and was found last summer in a group of ash trees near Ogilvie Road and St. Laurent Boulevard.

There is no known practical way of stopping the bug, and if one isn’t found, all ash trees in the city — about 25 per cent of Ottawa’s trees — are expected to die in 10 to 15 years. About 90,000 property owners in the city will be affected. Government officials estimate 30 to 40 per cent of all trees in Eastern Ontario are ash, and will suffer the same fate.

Scientists are working on a number of projects designed to knock the bugs out, and government officials are trying to slow the spread in order to buy time for the scientists to develop their fixes.

“Unfortunately, that’s the situation we are in,” the city’s forestry manager, David Barkley, said. “We have to wait for the research to catch up, and we need the public to help us do that by not transporting the wood.”

Disease: Fines for breach of quarantine top $200,000

From page C1 Stephen Clare, a plant-protection officer with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said officers will be actively enforcing the quarantine in the area — and breaking the quarantine could end up costing you.

Under the federal Plant Protection Act, initial charges generally result in fines in the hundreds of dollars, but repeat offenders transporting large amounts could be looking at fines of up to $200,000 and six years in prison.

“We need the public to help us stop the spread of this,” he said. “Most people know this is serious, but if they disregard this, there are penalties.”

After the beetle was discovered in Ottawa last summer, the city quickly developed a plan to deal with it. The municipality is giving property owners 20,000 good-sized trees this year, and planting ash trees extensively on city properties.

Municipal officials have also led the formation of a regional task force co-ordinating efforts to slow the spread of the bug.

Alta Vista Councillor Peter Hume, chairman of the city’s environment committee, said people need to understand it is a serious threat.

“I urge all residents to learn about the emerald ash borer and limit its spread by obeying the ministerial order,” he said.

Several attempts to contain or eliminate the beetle in areas first struck after the beetle arrived in North America from Asia in 2002 have failed. Large swaths of ash forest in the central U.S. and southern Ontario have already been wiped out.

Adult beetles feed on leaves and cause little damage, but their larvae feed on the inner bark, and quickly stop a tree’s ability to move water and nutrients through its system.

The beetle was first detected in Michigan and was later found in southern Ontario and south of Montreal. The bug arrived in Ottawa last summer; within weeks of detection, it killed about a dozen trees in the St. Laurent Boulevard-Ogilvie Road area, near the Queensway. This prompted the city’s forestry staff to develop a 10-year plan, which costs $1.4 million a year.

The beetle is actually a slow-moving invader on its own, but its relatively fast spread is due to humans moving trees and wood around.

Evidence of this can be seen in the areas it has been found. Until last year, it was limited to Southwestern Ontario and south of Montreal, but on Tuesday the agency issued quarantine orders for Toronto and surrounding areas, Sault Ste. Marie, Carignan, Que., and its surrounding municipalities, as well as Ottawa-Gatineau.

The city has set up part of its Trail Road dump, which is inside the quarantined area, to take ash materials for the duration of the transportation ban. People can still bring ash and other wood into the city from areas not covered by quarantines.


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