HARRISBURG, PA

-Pennsylvania has lifted its ash wood and hardwood restrictions, not because the emerald ash borer was beaten, but because it won. The Department of Agriculture says quarantines restricting in-state movement of ash materials and all hardwood firewood will be lifted April 15. "As the Emerald Ash Borer has moved rapidly across the state, the in-state quarantine restrictions no longer serve a productive purpose," says George Greig, the state's acting Agriculture Secretary.

A federal quarantine remains in effect in the highly invasive, wood-boring beetle that kills ash trees and poses a threat to that state's $25 billion hardwoods industry as well as woodlands in Canada and around the U.S. The emerald ash borer, responsible for the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees in 14 states. Because the beetle moved so quickly across Pennsylvania, the quarantine intended to slow the pest's spread there is moot.

Meanwhile, a coalition lead by the Nature Conservancy asked the USDA to ban untreated wood packaging from Canada, fearing non-native insects and diseases can enter the U.S.  The USDA is currently considering an amendment to the regulations for the importation of unmanufactured wood articles to remove the exemption. Canada, second only to China in providing imports to the U.S., ships goods  primarily in wood packaging to all areas of the country. 

"Our industry is very supportive of any measures that will prevent the spread of invasive pests through the movement of goods in wood packaging," said Tom Searles of the American Lumber Standards Committee. Canada has some introduced pests, such as the brown spruce longhorned beetle, that are not yet found in the United States, which could arrive on untreated wood packaging, says the group.

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