Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


April 8, 2014

State officials cease efforts to stop advance of ash borer


ASHLAND — Kentucky’s war against the tiny emerald ash borer responsible for already killing more than 25 million ash trees in the eastern United States has ended in surrender — by state officials, not the tiny insect.

State officials say the 30-county wood quarantine  intended to contain the emerald ash borer  has been ineffective. The end of the quarantine means emerald ash borers likely will spread more quickly through Kentucky, agriculture officials said, but they said the state’s efforts to stop the spread have been so ineffective, it was not worth the cost.

Kentucky officials said the federal government has more resources than the state to deal with the problem of the tiny insect which is doing to ash trees what another tiny insect — the pine beetle — did to pine trees throughout the South just a few years ago. The tiny insects have provided yet another reminder that the greatest threat to trees in this country are tiny insects and diseases spread by Mother Nature, not logging done by humans.

The battle against the ash borer will now be left up to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Because Kentucky is no longer quarantining those 30 counties, the entire state will join a large quarantine zone that includes Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and West Virginia. Regulated ash-related products can only be moved outside the zone under certain conditions.

The state’s effort to control the ash borer was a noble one, but we commend state officials for not continuing to spend limited state resources on efforts that are not working.

Here’s hoping Uncle Sam’s efforts to stop the spread of a emerald ash borer are more effective than Kentucky’s quarantine. After all, the ash tree is particularly important to at least one small but well-known industry in the state. The Louisville Slugger Museum in downtown Louisville not only is a popular tourist attraction that is well worth visiting, but the wooden bats used by professional baseball, are manufactured there. While ash no longer is the exclusive wood used a for bats, it remains by far the most preferred wood. In fact, Louisville Slugger owns several large ash forests. May the ash borer stay far away from them.

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