Discovery of emerald ash borer leads to ban of firewood - KCTV5

Discovery of emerald ash borer causes campground to ban firewood

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On holiday weekends, a lot of people head out to the lake, but at one lake in Kansas, they're asking visitors to leave something behind.

Labor Day weekend is always busy at Perry Lake in Kansas, but this year the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is hoping all the campers don't bring unwanted pests with them.

It's one of many holiday weekends Clarene Winkler has spent at Perry Lake.

"It's so much fun. It's relaxing out here with your friends and there's nature playing on the water, the food always tastes better," Winkler said.

Before she left Kansas City, KS, with her friends and family, Winkler got a call from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking her to leave her firewood at home. The emerald ash borer often will hitch a ride on a pile of firewood. Ash trees become infested when adult beetles lay eggs on the bark, leading to larvae that tunnel under a tree's bark, cutting off the tree's ability to deliver water and nutrients to its branches.

"It will essentially kill healthy ash trees. It does tend to go for stressed trees first," Natural Resource Specialist Kyle Broockerd said. "It has decimated ash tree populations through Ohio and Michigan, and recently they found it in Missouri, in the past few days in Wyandotte County."

Broockerd said the emerald ash borer is an invasive species that can be hard to stop. When it emerges from a tree, it will leave a D-shaped exit hole and parts of the tree's crown will then start dying off.

Because many campers like the Winkler's come from the Kansas City area, the engineers at Perry Lake aren't taking any chances.

"Part of our mission is to preserve this for future generations, and just being responsible stewards of the environment, it's kind of one small step we can do to help out," Broockerd said.

All firewood from outside of Jefferson County is now banned at Perry Lake's campgrounds. But there are still other options. Local stores sell approved wood and the Corps of Engineers has also set up a free exchange system for campers.

"We're switching it out with local stuff and quarantining it so we don't have possibly contaminated wood in our campgrounds," Broockerd said.

But the easiest route might be finding wood when people get to the campgrounds.

"You are allowed in our campgrounds to gather it on the ground. With 40,000 acres of land, there ought to be plenty lying around," Broockerd said.

That's what the Winkler's did even though they had a pile of firewood already packed for the weekend. Winkler said it was the responsible thing to do.

"I want to able to do this for several years to come. I love being at the lake," Winkler said.

Perry Lake is the only lake in Kansas that has a firewood ban.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture said Thursday a live emerald ash borer was found in a tree in Kansas City, KS. Trees there were being inspected after the presence of emerald ash borer was found in nearby Platte County, MO, in July. The U.S. Department of Agriculture notified Kansas of the confirmation Wednesday.

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