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Ottawa firewood under quarantine

OTTAWA — Campers and cottagers are being told to leave their firewood at home this long weekend or put the forests they’re heading to at risk.

A ministerial order from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has placed Ottawa under quarantine, prohibiting all movement of wood from the city. Employees at campsites, both provincially and municipally run, will be checking cars and confiscating any firewood they find. Those who disobey the order could face prosecution or be hit with fines as high as $50,000.

It’s all because of the emerald ash borer, the beetle that’s already cut a swath of destruction through an east Ottawa neighbourhood and continues to threaten ash trees across the city and beyond.

Officials say that if wood from trees infested with the beetle are brought to other areas, it could hasten the insect’s spread.

All of Eastern Ontario is vulnerable to the bug, as ash trees make up between 30 and 40 per cent of the area’s forest cover, said David Barkley, Ottawa’s manager of forestry services.

“The overall risk that we run of spreading the insect beyond where it is now is very high,” Barkley said.

The emerald ash borer was first found in 2008 on Rainbow Crescent, near Ogilvie Road and St. Laurent Boulevard.

From there, the bug spread to trees in a five-kilometre radius. Though the infestation has been contained in the east end, it threatens one quarter of all Ottawa’s trees.

Barkley said the city removed up to 200 ash trees over the winter. Cool weather in May slowed the growth of leaves , so officials will have to wait another couple of weeks before they can tell if there has been more tree death.

The management strategy launched by the city to address the emerald ash borer is now in its second year. New trees continue to be planted in the infested area, both by the city and by homeowners, who can request a free planting kit.

Last summer, the city inoculated about 200 of its trees with TreeAzin, which prevents infestation. Barkley said the pesticide will be used again this year but only after they determine where it will be most effective.

“There are 75,000 [ash] trees. We can’t inject them all,” he said.

Residents who suspect trees on their property are infested are encouraged to contact local contractors who can administer TreeAzin.

Telltale signs of emerald ash borer infestation are dead leaves at the top, branches sprouting from the bottom and the bug’s S-shaped grooves beneath the bark.

Republished from Ottawa Citizen May 19, 2010

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