Saskatchewan is in the midst of a battle to keep infested firewood outside its borders as two destructive pests devour trees in neighbouring provinces.
With the Canada Day long weekend drawing to a close, people should “buy locally and burn locally,” according to provincial forest insect and disease expert Rory McIntosh.
“One of the problems with moving firewood around is the hitchhikers that you find in or on the firewood,” McIntosh said.
To the west, the mountain pine beetle poses a significant risk, having devoured forests in British Columbia, killing trees and leaving the dried out remains susceptible to wildfires.
In 2018, Alberta Agriculture is slated to spend up to $20 million to keep its outbreak of the beetle under control in a valuable forest east of Jasper National Park.
At its peak, the mountain pine beetle eradicated just under 50 per cent of B.C.’s pine growing stock, McIntosh said.
“The outbreak in British Columbia is unprecedented in history. I mean, it was huge,” McIntosh said.
To the east of Saskatchewan, the emerald ash borer was detected in Winnipeg in December 2017.
Saskatoon has 27,000 ash trees and the emerald ash borer threatens every species of the tree.
“Infested firewood is the number one way this insect has moved around,” Jeff Boone. the City of Saskatoon’s entomologist, said.
Ash trees are native to the eastern part of Saskatchewan and have been planted as a major part of the urban forest in many municipalities.
Moving firewood from places where regulated pests have been found can be a violation of Canada’s Plant Protection Act.
Penalties can cost as much as $50,000 and may be accompanied by prosecution, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
-With files from The Canadian Press