Emerald ash borer found in Fillmore

Published 5:11 pm Saturday, April 25, 2015

State officials have identified emerald ash borer in another of Mower County’s neighbors.

The state Department of Agriculture found emerald ash borer activity in Rushford in Fillmore County, which neighbors Mower to the east. Emerald as he borer was confirmed in Olmsted County last August.

This is the first time that ash borer has been identified in Fillmore County, so a specimen has also been sent to the United States Department of Agriculture for confirmation, which is expected early next week.

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Fillmore County will likely join Anoka, Dakota, Hennepin, Houston, Olmsted, Ramsey, and Winona counties in a state and federal quarantine. The quarantine is meant to prevent ash borer from spreading outside a known infested areas by limiting the movement of any items that may be infested, including ash trees and ash tree limbs, as well as all hardwood firewood.

Emerald ash borer larvae kill ash trees by tunneling into the wood and feeding on the tree’s nutrients. Since its accidental introduction into North America, emerald ash borer has killed tens of millions of ash trees in 24 states. The invasive insect was first discovered in Minnesota in 2009. Anoka was the last county to be quarantined in March 2015.

Minnesota has about one billion ash trees — the most of any state in the nation.

In 2010, a city inventory found ash accounted for about 17 percent of Austin’s trees, according to Parks and Recreation Director Kim Underwood.

Jeanine Vorland, a regional wildlife manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said last September that Lake Louise State Park on the eastern end of Mower County near LeRoy is a concern, as are all state parks.

“It would be pretty devastating if it got in there,” Vorland said last year, adding that the park has a “beautiful forest.”

Since Lake Louise isn’t staffed as heavily as other state parks, Vorland said it’s important for people to not transport firewood into the park.