LINCOLN (AP) -- Nebraska has begun a voluntary firewood restriction to help stem the spread of a pesky insect that's killed millions of ash trees in the United States since it arrived from Asia.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission said Tuesday the spread of the emerald ash borer can be prevented if park users acquire firewood within 50 miles of their destination and burn all their wood, especially wood brought from another state. Signs will be posted at all state parks and state recreation areas.
The commission also said park users bringing firewood from other states to Niobrara, Ponca, Eugene T. Mahoney and Indian Cave state parks, as well as Pawnee State Recreation Area, will be asked to exchange their firewood for locally acquired firewood.
Emerald ash borers were first detected in Michigan in 2002 and, authorities have said the insect has killed more than 50 million ash trees since. The bugs have yet to be detected in Nebraska, where millions of ash trees line streets and shade people in parks and yards.
But Nebraska officials fear migration from Kansas and Missouri. Experts confirmed in August the insects were found in northeast Kansas' Wyandotte County. Also in August, Missouri officials said ash borers were confirmed near Parkville, on the northwest side of Kansas City, Mo.
Mark Shour with the Iowa State University Extension said Wednesday that the insects have been detected only in Allamakee County in the state's northeast corner.
Ash trees are used commercially for baseball bats, kitchen cabinets and other products. They dominate the landscape in parts of the Midwest, and account for 25 percent to 35 percent of the trees in Nebraska. Neighboring Iowa has an estimated 88 million ash trees.
The adult beetles are relatively harmless and nibble on leaves, but the larvae are deadly. They drill into trees, eat through the vascular tissue and stop the flow of water. An infested tree can die within a few years, and the emerging generation of beetles moves to others.
The borer spreads from state to state when infested trees, logs or firewood are moved from one area to another.
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