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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074 | Fax: (406) 444-2684
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Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week is May 21-27


HELENA, Mont. – With summer recreation season gearing up in Montana, state officials are reminding residents and visitors that moving firewood threatens our forested communities and landscapes, as many non-native organisms can hitch a ride on firewood and then emerge to kill nearby trees.

“We want people to know that when they visit Montana from out of state, they should not be bringing firewood with them,” said Leigh Greenwood, Don’t Move Firewood National Manager with The Nature Conservancy. “It’s just not worth risking millions of dollars in damage to save a few bucks on your bundle of firewood. Montana has plenty of locally harvested firewood for sale, or visitors can gather firewood near their campsites whenever it’s allowed.”

The emerald ash borer (EAB) spreads slowly on its own, rarely flying more than one mile from the place where it hatched. When accidently transported by people, this invasive species can travel hundreds of miles in a single day. Infested firewood is the most common source of new infestations, though infested nursery stock and wooden packaging may also harbor EAB larvae. The beetles have killed millions of ash trees across the US, and while not yet discovered in Montana, the potential impacts are very real.

“Ash trees make up roughly 30 percent of the public trees in Montana’s urban forests,” said Jamie Kirby, Urban Forestry Program Manager with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC). “In some communities, the number of ash trees reaches 70 percent. The potential impacts from this insect cannot be ignored – millions of dollars’ worth of ash trees are at risk. Our best-case scenario is early detection and monitoring for signs of EAB activity.”

Kirby said the best practice for future tree plantings on boulevards, in backyards and other urban sites involves species diversity.

“Many kinds of trees grow well in Montana’s climate,” Kirby said. “In fact there are more than 180 unique tree species recorded in communities around the state. When choosing a new tree to plant, there are a wide range of options, many of which are available at local nurseries. A diverse tree population will be more resilient from the next insect or disease that comes our way.”

Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week is May 21-27, and residents and visitors are encouraged to avoid moving firewood long distances; instead, people should “buy it where they burn it,” Kirby said.

To learn more about the Emerald Ash Borer, visit www.dontmovefirewood.org. Additionally, the Montana DNRC has the state’s EAB Readiness and Response Plan, which can be found here.