The state Department of Environmental Conservation plans to make permanent an emergency regulation to combat the spread of tree-killing pests and diseases.
The regulation took effect in the Glen Oaks neighborhood of Glenville shortly after the Dec. 11 ice storm in the Capital Region, which took down thousands of trees. The regulation restricts the import, sale and transport of untreated firewood.
The Glen Oaks neighborhood was identified in September as having oak wilt disease in some of its trees. The infection is contagious to other trees under some circumstances.
The state is accepting public comment on the permanent regulation through Feb. 9. People can submit comments through the DEC Web site, www.dec.ny.gov.
Under the regulation, only firewood cured by heating to a core temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 75 minutes can be moved without restriction. The regulation restricts intrastate movement of untreated firewood to no more than a 50-mile radius from its source.
DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said in a news release the regulation will reduce the risk of introducing invasive and destructive pests into state forests, woodlands and urban trees.
“Invasive pests and diseases damage both the environment and the economy,” Grannis said. “No one wants to see our trees destroyed, visit tree-less campgrounds or face the costs of removing and replacing dead trees.”
State officials said they have been working on policies to educate the public about the risks involved with transporting firewood, especially in campgrounds.
“It is imperative that the camping community recognizes the seriousness of this issue and acts responsibly,” Commissioner Carol Ash of the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said in a news release.
State officials said trees are being destroyed by Chestnut blight, European gypsy moth, Dutch elm disease and beech bark disease. They also report the discovery of Asian long-horned beetles and hemlock woolly adelgids infesting urban and rural forests. In addition, they said, the emerald ash borer is moving east from Michigan and has been found in Pennsylvania and near Montreal, Canada.
State officials discovered at least 35 trees in Glen Oaks with oak wilt. Oak wilt had not been reported in New York prior to its appearance last year.
The state plans to remove the trees in the spring and has dug ditches around infected trees to prevent the spread of the disease. The disease is dormant during the winter.
State officials do not know how oak wilt got into the trees. The fungus plugs paths that deliver nutrients, causing starvation of the trees. The disease kills red oaks within weeks of infection but is less lethal to other oaks. It spreads through beetles, root grafts and through spore-producing trees that are already infected.