Chad: don’t adjust your dial! We
are here to bug you on purpose. Today on the
County seat were going to talk about something
that is as scary as Halloween and it’s the
appropriate season to talk about it. It is an invasion that
potentially could be coming your way. Can we stem it?
That’s what this shows about. We are
actually talking about pest invasions we are talking
about invasive species and a quarantine to try
to stop it. Let’s give you a little background
information with our story. One of the best comforts while
camping in the woods is a warm cozy fire. While
we enjoy the fire we also take great care
that it doesn’t get out of hand and start burning
the forest. Smokey’s advice, “Only you can
prevent forest fires,” is right there to remind
us. However there is another threat to the
forest that may have found its way there with
your fire wood. The Utah Department of
Agriculture and Food has issued a wood quarantine in
an effort to protect Utah from invasive bug
species. An invasive species is a non-native
organism that is capable of harming the economy,
environment and human health. While there
are a number of these species, the bug that Ag
and Food is particularly worried about right
now is the emerald ash borer and while it
hasn’t hit Utah yet, local officials aren’t
taking chances. “We didn’t believe it would
actually get to Utah because there is not a
contiguous amount of ash from the east to the west.
However it did end up in Colorado and in
Boulder and that is one of our big concerns now is
it probably got introduced there through
firewood.” This tiny, green skinned bug is
pigging backing its way across the country in a
few ways but one common way is via cords of
wood sold at stores across the country. To
prevent its arrival in Utah consumers need to be
careful. “What people need to do when
they are purchasing firewood make sure
that that wood has a label stating where it
came fromwe don’t want those pests to get
settled here in Utah or get established.” Invasive species like the
emerald ash borer aren’t anything new to Utah. A
few years ago Utah County had a big problem
with Japanese Beetles and it cost the state
more than a million dollars to eradicate the problem
but the cost wasn’t in just cash. “It cost the homeowners quite a
bit too. We’d asked them not to grow gardens
because the pesticides we were using they
shouldn’t be consuming, they weren’t approved
for use in a garden. But we wanted to make
sure that we could get rid of that beetle and
those people down there were willing to
sacrifice that so we could get rid of it.” If Utahans don’t help to prevent
the spread of this invasive species the cost
will stack up even beyond the dead trees and
eradication costs. “A lot of our counties, our
rural counties, grow nursery stock to ship out of
state or even ship in state. If they were shipping ash
trees and they got emerald ash borer we would
have to quarantine those and then they
wouldn’t be able to sell those to other
places.” We’ll discuss further ways you
can help prevent the spread of invasive species
in our panel discussion. For the County Seat,
I’m Joe Davis. Chad: Well, there you have the
background and it is a serious topic so the fun
stops here. Will be back after our commercial break,
will talk about this quarantine and what you can
do to be a part of it. Chad: welcome back to the County
seat our conversation today about
invasive species in Utah. Obviously, we’ve started
with a little bit of a lighthearted approach to a
very serious problem but the scope of it
should be pretty relevant and evident by now.
Joining us for our conversation Dawn Holzer from
the USDA we have Ryan Davis from the USU
extension service and from the Department
of Agriculture and food Mr. pest himself Kris
Watson. How are you? Kris: Well, thank you Chad. Chad: thank you, I appreciate
you all taking the time to come out and talk about
this. So, we see that firewood is a specific
problem for invasive species but I sat and looked at
some of the promos that the USDA has
prepared to tell people about them, and it looked
like there are a lot of ways for invasive species
to wander into the state. What are some of the
other pathways people should be watching for as
we focus in on firewood quarantines? Kris: yeah Chad, there’s many
different pathways invasive pests make it
to Utah or throughout the states. And this
is just, firewood is just one of them. There are
also outdoor household articles that
different insects are able to put their egg masses or
attach themselves to lawn furniture, different
equipment, playground equipment. That type of thing to
bring that when they move from another state
into Utah. And that’s a concern to us. There is
also nursery stock which we do nursery
inspections throughout the state which is
also a major pathway for these invasive
pests. Chad: but they don’t hide in a
wheel well of an airplane or your car or anything
and when you go on vacation? Kris: we’ve actually seen where
they have egg masses attached to wheel wells. Chad: really? Kris: it could happen. Chad: wow! Ryan: pests are really good
hitchhikers right, so they can be on anything.
Thinking about pests it’s not just insects that were
concerned about it could be things like weeds or
weed seeds sticking to your boots if you go
out hiking. Chad: so, let’s talk about the
quarantine specifically on firewood. Why do
we choose that and focus on that as a key issue
in this battle? Kris: yeah firewood is just a
major pathway it’s one pathway that we feel at the
Utah Department of agriculture and
food that were able to regulate and being that
wood borers and different insects are able to
actually attach either to the outside of the wood more
inside of the wood and you may never even know
that the insect was there. And then that
pathway people like to bring their firewood in
to go camping. The state of Utah is great for
camping we love our recreation and people like to
visit the great state of Utah and so they’re able to
bring their firewood and we just like to be
able to regulate that. Make sure that they’re not
bringing invasive pests with them. Chad: so I guess my first
question is for the years that people have been
watching our show and the many times we’ve talked
about the forests in the state of Utah
with the pine bark beetle. Is it possible that the
Dixie national Forest problem today started by
some unsuspecting camper several
years ago? Ryan: actually those species
were native to Utah already and so it was actually
stand conditions which allowed Spruce beetle to
erupt and which allowed mountain pine beetle to
erupt. So those were things that were already
here, still invasive in the way that they acted but
not an introduced species. Chad: okay. So, what should
people be looking for as far as firewood goes, how
does a quarantine work? You’re just
saying no outside wood, you’ve got to buy your
wood here? Because that makes people think
like I’m in a movie theater and I’ve got to
buy your popcorn. Kris: essentially there’s
already a firewood quarantine from these federally
quarantined areas. You cannot bring this
regulated article, firewood, into the state of
Utah. It’s just one way for us to regulate this if it is
labeled so, I’ve identified that in many cases
there is not a label on the firewood and therefore it
makes it very difficult for us to be able to
regulate that. Chad: so are we ever going to
reach a point where we have agricultural
inspection stations coming into Utah instead of
looking at Apple’s and oranges we are looking at
firewood and playground sets. Kris: Chad you hit it right on
the head. This is essentially what California is
doing except for they have agriculture border
stations that they are able to inspect before the
commodity reaches their state and so this
is one of our tools in order to mitigate for pests. Chad: so really quickly, I don’t
see any evidence of a quarantine. What does it
actually look like to us, how does it function? Kris: well this will be
implemented through labeling and where most
consumers will be able to see a label on their that
indicates it’s been heat treated, where its place of
origin is from and actual contact information.
This will allow us to be able to look at the label
and then contact the individual if there is a
problem with quarantine issues. Chad: excellent, great place to
take a break. I want to look at this in a little
bit broader picture when we come back. We’ll return
to the County seat in just a minute. Chad: welcome back to the County
seat. We are talking today about a firewood
quarantine and the important part that watching
our wood supply and other agriculture supplies
have in our own agricultural health. So, I want
to follow-up with a question because this kind of
came up as a thought during the break. People
are hearing about would quarantine, you’ve
got to have a label stuff got to be inspected
does that mean that I cannot go to the forest
service or the BLM and get a woodcutting permit,
and go up into the hills around Salt Lake or where
I live in Utah and cut down wood anymore? Kris: that’s a good point Chad,
I appreciate you bringing that up. This essential
quarantine is exempt for anybody harvesting
firewood locally within the state. So any
firewood harvested. Chad: within the state. Kris: within the state. Chad: so if I live in Green
River and I go over the border to Colorado that’s
where I don’t cut firewood. Kris: it has potential to be a
problem. Chad: I just look for the little
red line that’s the borderline in the state and make
sure it’s on our side. Kris: as written yes. Chad: Okay, there we go. See
that raises a really good point. This is just,
we’re looking at it as a Utah problem but this is a
bigger problem because I imagine Colorado or
Wyoming or Idaho are probably trying to do
the same thing. How does that fit in in an
interstate basis? Kris: in several cases, I think
maybe even Dawn would be able to answer on some
of these questions just with the federal
quarantines and how they are implementing the
same concerns with firewood moving throughout
the Chad: yeah, how do you manage it
on a federal level? It just seems
overwhelming. Dawn: well we have the authority
under the Plant protection act of 2000 it
was revised then to have numerous different
domestic quarantine areas for different regulated
pests. And the purpose of those is to contain
those infested areas where they already occur
and protect places like Utah from getting
these new invasive pests into the areas. So, for
example, emerald ash spore is a huge new invasive
pest that’s already attacking, I think it’s
in 31 different states right now mostly throughout the
East and the Midwest. It’s also in Colorado
now. Boulder County Colorado is a quarantine
area. So there is a firewood quarantine, it is
illegal to move all types of firewood out of those
areas into on infested areas. So that’s just
one example. Chad: I guess that raises a
question, it almost sounds like you’re trying to
slow the flow but. Dawn: exactly, we call it. Slow
the spread. Chad: Okay, I didn’t mean to
borrow something from our water Conservancy
friends but it sounds like this is really a
hard problem and that eventually, this is going to get
us in or nip this in the bud, no pun intended. In the
first place, is that true? Dawn: well it really depends on
how much people are willing to help out
and comply. As another example, gypsy moth
occupies a similar territory as emerald ash spore
does right now but it’s been in the US since
1869. Early on in my career with USDA in 1988, it
was detected here in Utah for the first time. Chad: I remember that. Dawn: I was there to, I think
Larry Lewis was as well, so a lot of us were
involved in that and we spent the better part of 10
years and over $5 million eradicating that
successfully from Utah which is pretty amazing that we
were able to do that it was in a four-county
area at our largest time we sprayed just under fifty
square miles. And that went on for most of 10
years, but we get it when we got rid of it so
gypsy moth is an example where if you hold that
line you can keep it from getting into other
areas. Chad: so did we reach a point
where we eradicated it enough that we
don’t have to do ongoing treatment to protect us
from it? Dawn: we’re not doing ongoing
treatment, however, we do continue
monitoring it and surveying and that’s a big part
of our regular everyday jobs that Kris and Ryan
and myself do is surveying the state so we can
continue to look for and we continue to educate
people to be on the lookout for it and ask them
not to move outdoor household articles from
those regulated areas that could have invasive
species on them. Chad: so if you’re moving you’ve
got to leave your swingset where you live,
you have to buy a new one? Dawn: there’s actually an online
checklist you can go on our website and
there’s a self-certification that you can
do. You’re actually supposed to have this document
with you in your moving van if you move from
a gypsy moth infested area to somewhere
that’s not infected like Utah. Chad: or an ash borer area or
any of these other, so like with Quagga
mussels there is a procedure you can go through to
decontaminate, you can do that so you don’t
have to leave your swingset if you decontaminate
it? Dawn: yes, you can scrape the
egg masses off. You look for life stages and the
website shows you exactly what to look for and
you can actually scrape those egg masses off into
a pale of soapy water and your equipment
is good to go, once it’s clean. Chad: this is a question for you
Ryan, all right how many ash borer bugs does it
take to start an infestation? Ryan: start an infestation. I
mean theoretically, one pregnant female could get
into trees and start laying eggs and then you
have an infestation. Chad: likely before something
becomes a problem. I’m trying to impress
how vigilant people actually have to be, how
vigilant do they have to be to keep something we
don’t have from Ryan: you have to be very
vigilant in terms of where there harvesting there
wood and where they’re taking it. Obviously,
anything from a quarantine area you don’t want
to bring into the state and now you don’t want to
bring anything from out-of-state. Kris: one thing I would just
like to point out is that this is not saying that you
cannot bring it in it’s just saying you need to
communicate with the Department of agriculture
and ensure that you’re not in a quarantine area.
There are also exemptions that were able to
write so that you’re able to bring this firewood or
as Dawn mentioned, outdoor household
articles into the state, we’re not saying that you
can’t it’s just. Is certain treatment options that
you need to follow to be able to comply. Chat: is this going to be an
ongoing thing? I mean, we do have a history of
invasive pests obviously because we’re talking
about gypsy moths and we’ve had several but,
is this just a new fact of life about the
growing population, and a more migrant population
that all the states are going to have to do this
kind of thing forever just to keep things contained? Dawn: yes, I think that’s part
of it. That’s an accurate description that yes
because of our increased rate of travel we are
at a higher risk and that’s one of the reasons
why we’re actually here today is because outreach
becomes a more and more important part of
what we all do every day trying to get the
general public to be on the lookout for these pests
as well and educate them. Chad: just to kind of look at a
historical aspect, how far back can you track bug
infestations? And problems that have
developed? Dawn: I’ve got some figures here
that I wrote down, going back way to the
beginning of the century actually. Bull weevil
came in in the early 1900s into the US. Chad: I was not there for that. Dawn: no I wasn’t, gypsy moth I
mentioned was in 1869. Chestnut blight 1904,
Dutch elm disease was 1930 and imported fire ant
1913, in 1930s and we’ve had some other more
recent like emerald ash getting into the US
2003. Chad: are all of these
threatening, I mean people are probably thinking
forests right now because of pine bark beetle and
we hear ash beetle and go oh ash is a tree.
And they think well that’s a forest, that’s a
in the mountains problem. Are some of these
actual city problems or urban problems? Ryan: they definitely are. If
you look at in particular emerald ash bore in
the East it does affect forest trees but also
Street trees, I mean we’re looking at nearly 100%
kill of all ash trees. And so if you think about that
insect coming to Utah and being successful where
losing I think Kris said anywhere from 5 to 80%
of our urban forests just depending on where
you are in the state. And that is just city… Chad: to the ash bore currently? Ryan: if it comes to the state
and establishes. Yes. Chad: what do we have right now
that is killing trees or killing any kind of
agriculture in an urban setting, does somebody want to
take a stab at that one? Ryan: there are a whole host of
pests, non-invasive or things that are
potentially invasive but, we have all types
of things like you mentioned on the Dixie and up
that high elevation mountain pine beetle
and spruce beetle killing trees. Chad: what about federal
heights? Ryan: federal heights? Well, I. Dawn: you forgot to mention
weeds, a lot of rangeland weeds gets their start
in landscape settings. Chad: it is a broad problem.
Well, this has been a very interesting conversation
I probably have more questions than answers but
we’re going to take a quick break and when we
come back we’re going to kind of try to
sum this all up and give an action plan for you the
viewers at home. We’ll be right back with the
County seat in just a minute. Chad: Buzz Welcome back to the
County seat we are talking about
invasive species we are talking about quarantine and
things that the department of agriculture and
food working in conjunction with the federal
government are doing to try to make sure that
our forests, our lawns, are trees and are yards
stay healthy. What defines an invasive
species? I think that’s something that we need to know. Ryan: I think it’s very
important to define what it is because there are a lot of
exotic species that come into the country, in fact,
it’s estimated some 50,000 species have been
brought in over the years. But what an invasive
species is it’s a non-native species that actually
causes harm and it can cause harm to the
environment to the economy human health. Etc. so
that’s the important designation there is
that it does cause harm. Chad: okay. Not that it’s just a
nuisance or a different kind of butterfly
flying around. Ryan: yeah there are a lot of
invasive species right? Dandelions we all deal of
those. Earwigs you know European earwigs
European paper wasps, the house mouse. Chad: oh those can cause a lot
of harm I’ve been stung by them before,
they’re not very pleasant but I do get your
point. So I think that we need to talk about a call to
action because it’s obviously a problem and if
my grass starts dying because of a beetle or a
grub or something it’s important from
somewhere else. All of the sudden I’m going to
be an activist instead of a bystander, what do
we need to do to prevent that from happening? Kris: well I believe that most
people being where in the great state of Utah and
we all care so much about our community and the
environment and that. I believe that
everybody really most people want to do the right
thing and so just the education, the outreach that
were doing here today is a big part of our job
to just inform people of the right thing to do
and people want to do that. Chad: how do you impress on
someone how important this is? Ryan: I think it’s important to
mention to people because again, people in Utah
love to recreate there are spots that they go
that they love because of the beauty and we
need to impress upon them if they are
transporting firewood or other pathways that could bring
invasive species in it could effectively destroy
those areas that they like to recreate in. Chad: potentially are bugs more
threatening than forest fires? Ryan: forest fires? I guess it’s
all relative I mean you would have regeneration of
course after a forest fire so that’s considered
a natural agent to some degree, but yeah I mean we
could be talking about mountain pine
beetle and spruce beetle and they devastated
thousands and thousands of acres. Chad: so where are the
resources, where can people get involved and do
something about this? Dawn: I recommend that people do
something to educate themselves there is some
wonderful resources online such as don’t
move firewood.org is one really good
one and another one is our hungry pests.com. Chad: yeah that’s a good time to
look at that is Halloween I mean it’s kind of
creepy. Dawn: but you can learn all
about the different pests and learn whether your
area is at risk or not. And more importantly where
to report it if you think you find something. Chad: oh that’s very good. Any
resources at the state we should talk about? Kris: ag.Utah.gov you can find
our quarantine’s there or other quarantines that
are at issue and also a lot of just general
information about invasive pests. Chad: okay extension service. If
you find, you were talking about if you find
something, report it so if you find something that
bores a hole into your pine tree in your front
yard or your elm tree is starting to get sick can they
call the extension service and you guys will come
out? Ryan: this is exactly what I do,
I work at the Utah plant pest diagnostic lab and so
people are constantly sending samples of
what’s killing my tree etc. people can send in
pictures to my e-mail they can visit the
website, we have hundreds of fact sheets on all
sorts of pests. Chad: there will be some people
like my wife who would be really creeped out
about catching a bug and putting it into the
mail for you so what else are there avenues, do you
actually make house calls ever if there’s
something they can get out of the tree? Ryan: I don’t make house calls
in particular, but we do have a County level
extension system where sometimes those County
agents will make house calls or again you
can just take pictures or try to explain it
over the phone. Chad: excellent, we are flat out
of time. Thank you for joining us we appreciate
this is good information. Remember, local
government and actions like this are what make
your life happen so be involved and be part of
the solution. That’s what we’re here for on the
County seat. We’ll see you next week.