Letter to the Editor: Emerald ash borer laws "very confusing"

This letter is a response to a news story, "Olive firewood dealer busted for selling logs infested with emerald ash borer," published on July 23, 2014. - Ed.

To the editor:

Previous to this I only knew of the two laws on the DEC’s website:

1.       New York's order prohibits the movement of regulated articles (Ash trees and their products) beyond the quarantined counties without certification or compliance agreements issued by NYS DAM or USDA APHIS.  (The quarantined counties include all counties south of I90 and all near Olive.)  Map --http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/90421.html  So under this regulation, the firewood producer was fine.  If one of his customers transported the wood outside of the quarantine area, that would be the customer’s problem.

2.       Limits the movement of untreated firewood (any species) to 50 miles for the purpose of protecting forests from the spread of invasive insects and diseases.  That means that if the producer transported any species of firewood outside of 50 miles as the crow flies, to his concentration/production yard then he would be in violation of the law.  He cut the trees himself as they were infected and cut them within 50 miles.

It is very confusing even to the knowledgeable.  A call to an En-Con officer resulted in him not even knowing the laws.

The DEC indicated in their press release that he was knowingly selling infested ash, which I have now learned is prohibited under state and federal regulations. The quarantine governs movement of regulated materials which do include lots of uninfected species but you need a compliance agreement to move infested ash during the non-flight season, and during the flight season you are prohibited entirely from moving the EAB itself.  Firewood is governed by both the EAB regulations and the NY firewood regulations.

It has been a bit of a struggle getting people to understand that it is really important not to harvest or move infestations during the flight season even within the quarantine.  Even some large sawmills like Baillie, Wagner and Gutchess were confused about this issue earlier last year when we expanded the quarantine.

Here is the order;


The Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Ag and Markets and the USDA APHIS are considering going statewide with a quarantine and focusing only on known infestations so their money is best spent on actual infestations and trying to get people to understand how to limit the movement faster than the bug flies.

It seems to me that this producer was doing what he thought was right and that the potential bad name is not deserved.  Even the knowing did not know.  Kind of like getting a speeding ticket where there are no posted speed signs. 

Jim Waters
Executive Director
The Catskill Forest Association, Inc.