Invasive beetle in Superior could be problem for CloquetWhile no emerald ash borer beetles have yet been found in Carlton County, their discovery is already having an effect on one of the area’s largest employers, Sappi Fine Papers, as well as other forest industry professionals.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
While no emerald ash borer beetles have yet been found in Carlton County, their discovery is already having an effect on one of the area’s largest employers, Sappi Fine Papers, as well as other forest industry professionals.
In mid-August, officials in Superior, Wis., confirmed the presence of the small (half-inch) metallic-green bug in the city’s North End neighborhood. The bug previously hadn’t been found north of the Twin Cities in Minnesota or any further north than Brown or Trempealeau counties in Wisconsin.
The emerald ash borer, an invasive species originally from China, has killed millions of trees in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois over the last decade. It has no natural enemies here. The adult bugs lay their eggs on the ash tree and the larvae burrow into the tree where they eat into parts of the tree that carry water and nutrients to the canopy. Trees affected typically die in one to four years.
Gary Erickson, Sappi Fine Paper regional manager of wood fiber and fuel procurement, isn’t yet certain what the discovery of the invasive bug in Superior will mean for the paper mill. He has already halted any purchase of “biomass” — which he described as chips, bark and other logging residue that Sappi burns in its boilers to provide electricity — from the Superior area until they learn how it will be restricted.
Erickson expects to get answers to that question and more at a meeting Monday, hosted by the Douglas County Forestry Department at the Solon Springs Community Center, 11523 Business Highway 53, to discuss the new regulatory environment that a quarantine creates for those in the forest industry. A quarantine is necessary because moving infected wood is one way the invasive species has spread into and through the country.
Complicating the matter for the commercial forestry industry in Douglas County is the reality that most of the county’s wood products are transported to Minnesota, explained Jon Harris, Douglas County Forestry Department director.
While the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection regulates the quarantine for timber that stays within Wisconsin, Harris said federal regulations kick in for wood transported out of state.
That means Cloquet.
“I believe we are one of the biggest markets for wood from Douglas County,” Erickson said, noting that Sappi gets a “substantial portion” of its wood from Wisconsin.
Erickson explained that Sappi buys primarily aspen and maple, and only a little bit of ash.
“The challenge [for Wisconsin foresters] is how do they manage their forest if they’re not harvesting any ash?” Erickson said. “We provide the market that gives land managers the opportunity to manage their forests, really keep them healthy.”
He praised Douglas County for organizing next week’s meeting.
“It’s actually a very complicated, two-fold finding, and a lot is going to be learned by a lot of different folks,” Harris said.
Forum News Service reporter Shelley Nelson contributed to this story.
IF ROOM ONLY
Breakout: How to identify ash
Forum News Service
Every species of tree has defining characteristics: Variations in the size, shape and arrangement of leaves and branches can help identify the species of trees.
According to Michigan State University Extension, here are some ways to distinguish ash trees:
Branches: Branches and bud arrangements on ash trees are directly across from one another and are not staggered. Not every branch will have an opposite mate, however, because some buds or limbs may die.
Leaves: An ash has compound leaves with five to 11 leaflets, again with stems directly across from one another and a single leaflet at the end. The leaf edges can be either smooth or toothed depending on the species of ash.
Bark: The bark of an ash is relatively smooth in a young tree, but develops diamond-shaped ridges as it matures.
Similar trees: Boxelder, shagbark hickory and black walnut have similar patterns of compound leaves, but the boxelder only has three to five leaflets, and the seeds of the hickory and black walnut are hard-shelled nuts rather than the oar-shaped samaras of the ash tree that appear in late fall to early winter. European mountain ash — not a true ash tree — also has leaflets opposite one another, however the branches are alternate or staggered in appearance and the mountain ash bears creamy white flowers in May and fleshy red-orange berries in the fall.
Once it’s determined if a tree is ash, people can determine its health by looking at the canopy and base of the tree, says Superior City Forester Mary Morgan. An infested tree will show signs of die-back in the upper canopy while smaller branches erupt at the base of the tree. People may also notice a quarter-inch D-shaped hole in the bark of an infested, and Morgan said City Arborist John Krivinchuk also noticed peeling back of the bark in some of the infested trees in the Superior.
Morgan said people may also notice an increase in woodpecker activity in an infested tree.
For more information, go to http://datcpservices.wisconsin.gov/eab/index.jsp or www.emeraldashborer.info.