Minnesota Department of Agriculture proposes quarantine of Cook and Lake county wood products
Under a proposal by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), it will be illegal to bring wood products in or ship wood products out of Cook and Lake counties beginning in the spring of 2014 unless the wood products have met rigorous compliance agreements (CA) set up by the state.
The MDA is taking this action to, “prevent and stifle the growth of gypsy moth populations in Lake and Cook County,” states the newsletter distributed to the Cook County board of Commissioners at its Tuesday, May 21, 2013 meeting.
Because of their destructiveness, gypsy moth caterpillars have caused millions of dollars of damage nationwide as they defoliate trees and plants. Brought in to Boston from Europe accidentally in 1868 or 1869, gypsy moths slowly spread. Because they are so numerous and have few predators, they move almost unimpeded, slowly making their way across the country. Over the last 20 years millions of acres have been sprayed with pesticide to slow the spread of gypsy moths. But still the moths are winning, advancing along the food trail.
If the proposal is carried forward Cook and Lake County will be the first counties quarantined in the state, and Minnesota will be the 21st state to be completely or partially quarantined for gypsy moths.
Since 2006 the MDA has worked in Cook and Lake County to suppress the growth of gypsy moths. Every year people are hired to trap gypsy moths and over the years the number of moths in certain areas in the Lake and Cook County has increased.
“Populations have now grown to a point where treatment is ineffective,” stated the newsletter.
“They [MDA] need to convince us that imposing significant hardships on loggers and mill owners is going to make any real difference in the spread of gypsy moths,” said Wayne Brandt, executive director of the Minnesota Timber Association.
Brandt pointed out that the highest concentration of gypsy moths is along the shore, adding, “Populations fall off when you go inland. Maybe they should look at quarantines on a township level, not a county level.”
Howard Hedstrom, president of Hedstrom Lumber Company said, “We have been looking at this proposal for awhile now and we are very concerned about its implications.”
Under the MDA rules, it will be illegal to transport any wood product or outdoor household articles that have been exposed to gypsy moths from a quarantined area to a non-quarantined area without inspection or certification.
According to the MDA, “The quarantine is designed to limit the movement of high-risk materials but, at the same time, provide options for moving regulated articles pest-free and so as not to hinder commerce.”
Articles that will require inspection and certification include: Logs, posts, pulpwood, bark and bark products; nursery stock; Christmas trees; firewood for commercial sale; mobile homes and associated outdoor household articles (residential and camping equipment) and any other products, articles, or means of conveyance that may spread gypsy moths.
Any products affected by the quarantine sold out of state will also have to have additional federal certification, but sales of products sold within the quarantine area won’t need an MDA certificate.
Just how this proposal will affect the sale of state and federal timber sales in Lake and Cook counties is unknown at this time. And how it will affect loggers already struggling to make ends meet is also unknown.
“The MDA is 12 years ahead of schedule on this,” Brandt said. “Originally they talked about doing this in 2025, but they pushed it up based on their trapping; 2012 was an up year. What if 2013 is a down year? Will it make any difference to them? Will they still look at doing the quarantine?
“It’s tough arguing with the Department of Agriculture, but it’s where we’re at. Bottom line, these rules will make it more expensive and more difficult to stay in business,” said Brandt.