PITTSFIELD -- The state is enacting a quarantine of Berkshire County's ash tree products and firewood to limit the spread of the emerald ash borer -- an invasive, tree-destroying insect -- to other parts of Massachusetts.
On Thursday, Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Edward M. Lambert Jr. announced that the countywide quarantine will take effect March 1. The quarantine, which includes all ash trees products and all hardwood firewood, means any Berkshire County wood cannot be moved elsewhere in the state unless it's been specially treated.
The quarantine prevents local saw mills from shipping untreated ash lumber outside the county and bans businesses and people from taking all locally harvested hardwood firewood beyond Berkshire County's borders. State and federal foresters say firewood is the No. 1 way the ash borer is spread.
One of the metallic green beetles was discovered in Dalton last August, the first confirmation of its presence in Massachusetts. Since mid-October, five more have been found within a 1.5-mile radius in the Kirchner Road area, according to DCR officials.
DCR officials say nearly two-thirds of the state's 45 million ash trees are in Berkshire County. The ash borers are capable of destroying a tree within a few years.
"We want to prevent the spread of the ash borer to the rest of the state, but we haven't given up on Berkshire County," Lambert said.
Native to Asia, the emerald ash borer was detected in the U.S. in 2002. Now confirmed in 18 states, the small, flying beetles have killed millions of ash trees and caused billions of dollars in economic loss across the nation, according to the DCR.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
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