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Beginning March 1, 2010, Shenandoah National Park will institute an Outside Firewood Ban in an attempt to slow the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer. The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is a destructive invasive exotic beetle that feeds on ash trees. As of 2009, the EAB is responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of ash trees throughout the Midwest and in some eastern states. Currently, the closest documented EAB infestation is in Fairfax County, Virginia, only 55 miles east of Shenandoah’s northern boundary. Foresters across the state are working to control the spread of this devastating insect through quarantines, bans, and public education.
The EAB is often spread by the movement of infested firewood. Over the last several years, EAB infested firewood has been found at campgrounds, hunting camps, NASCAR events, rest stops, and picnic areas throughout the Midwest and Eastern U.S. The park’s campgrounds and picnic areas are the most likely areas for EAB introduction into Shenandoah National Park. Because of the seriousness of a potential infestation, park managers are implementing the firewood ban effective March 1, 2010. The regulation will require that visitors not bring any firewood (or wood scraps) into the park. Visitors may gather dead and downed firewood in the park or purchase wood at Park Camp Stores. The park’s vendor’s sources have been approved and are being monitored for EAB. Additionally, visitors are encouraged to use charcoal for cooking fires.
White ash trees, comprising approximately 4% of the park’s overall forest, are found in 16 forest communities that together cover 65% of the park’s acreage. Given what is known about EAB infestations, an outbreak in Shenandoah National Park could lead to the loss of white ash in the park and surrounding areas. Shenandoah’s managers want to avoid the same widespread devastation to the ash population that the woolly adelgid has wrought on the Eastern Hemlock.