BISMARCK – April is Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month. With warmer weather on the way, it is important for the public to be aware of invasive species. Each year, harmful invasive plant pests and diseases cost the U.S. $40 billion in crop losses, damage to forests and expensive eradication and control efforts, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“Plant pests and diseases can be spread a number of ways,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. “It only takes one infected plant or piece of firewood to move invasive species into North Dakota.”
The recent donations of firewood from all over the country to the Standing Rock Reservation and protest camps presented a possible entry point for invasive species. The North Dakota Department of Agriculture and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Plant Protection and Quarantine (APHIS-PPQ) worked diligently to ensure firewood was moved in a way to prevent the accidental spread of invasive plant pests.
“While cleanup was taking place at the camp, crews were made aware of the need to dispose of firewood before spring, when pests emerge,” Goehring said. “The firewood was hauled to a nearby landfill and chipped or buried to eliminate the risk of pests spreading.”
This summer, the NDDA and USDA-APHIS-PPQ will be monitoring and surveying the areas near the former camps and disposal sites for pests such as emerald ash borer, gypsy moth and various other bark beetles and wood borers.
NDDA strongly encourages everyone to prevent the movement of plant pests by:
- Purchasing plants at a local, reputable nursery, garden center or seed source. The NDDA licenses and inspects nurseries in the state to ensure plants sold are from inspected sources.
- Buying or gathering firewood near the place it will be burned or using certified, heat-treated firewood. Don’t move firewood.
- Reporting any possible invasive pests to the NDDA or your local extension office.