Because the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) confirmed the presence of the invasive, highly destructive emerald ash borer (EAB) beetle on the Eastern Shore last month,  MDA will rescind the statewide quarantine that prohibited the movement of hardwood from the western to the eastern shore on Aug. 1. At that time, all of Maryland will fall under a federal EAB quarantine.

The state quarantine, which took effect in July 2011, was designed to protect the Eastern Shore counties from getting the invasive pest for as long as possible by prohibiting the movement of hardwood from the western to the eastern shore. The EAB, which is known to travel by attaching itself to hardwood, has killed, damaged and defoliated thousands of ash trees across the nation and across Maryland since it entered the United State about 13 years ago. The recent discovery of the EAB in Dorchester, Talbot and Queen Anne’s counties makes the state quarantine unnecessary. As of Aug. 1, Maryland will fall under a federal quarantine that allows hardwood to be moved within contiguous areas where EAB has been detected, including across state lines if the neighboring state has had confirmed EAB and is in the quarantine. Ash products affected included: all ash wood with the bark and sapwood remaining, ash nursery stock, all hardwood firewood, and hardwood chips larger than 1 inch in 2 dimensions. Moving those items to the eastern shore is no longer illegal.

Historically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has treated EAB quarantine areas in different states as individual quarantines, even if the adjoining states were also quarantined. Moving ash products from one area to the next required a federal permit. In 2012, APHIS issued a Federal Order (or policy change) that treats contiguous quarantine areas as a single quarantine area, even if it crosses state borders. This change in policy allowed companies and people to move ash materials within the quarantine area, including across state lines, as long as the entire trip, from start to finish, remains within a contiguous federal quarantine boundary. If, at any point, the trip leaves a quarantine area, the shipment will need a permit. The entire state of Maryland is now a part of this larger federal quarantine.

EAB is an invasive wood-boring beetle, native to China and eastern Asia. It probably arrived in North America hidden in wood packing materials commonly used to ship consumer and other goods. It was first detected in the United States in 2002 and arrived in Maryland in 2003. Since then, it has slowly but steadily been making its way across the state, damaging and destroying ash trees as it goes.

Everyday human activities can facilitate the spread of EAB and expand the extent and range of the infestation in North America. For this reason, MDA encourages homeowners, campers, vacationers, and outdoor enthusiasts not to move firewood and, perhaps, accidentally help spread the EAB. When it comes to firewood, burn it where you buy it.

For more information about EAB in Maryland, see the MDA website.