USDA Ends Domestic EAB Quarantine Regulations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced Dec. 14 that it is changing its approach to fight the emerald ash borer (EAB) infestation that has spread through much of the United States.

The agency published a final rule in the Dec. 15 Federal Register that removes the federal domestic EAB quarantine regulations that have proved ineffective and will redirect resources to more promising methods. The new rule took effect Jan. 14. Documents may be viewed online.

APHIS said it has been transparent about the challenges associated with controlling the emerald ash borer and that the domestic quarantine has not proven effective in stopping its spread. The agency has worked to identify more effective and less intrusive methods and will now direct available resources toward non-regulatory options for management and containment of the pest, such as rearing and releasing biological control agents. APHIS said results have already proved effective and the actions announced today will allow the agency to increase their use.

Removing the quarantine regulations ends APHIS’ domestic regulatory activities, which includes actions such as issuing permits, certificates and compliance agreements, making site visits, and conducting investigations of suspected violations.

APHIS said it is working with the National Plant Board on effective strategies to manage firewood movement, which is one of the ways the emerald ash borer spreads.

Since first being detected in the Detroit area in 2002, the emerald ash borer has spread through 35 states and killed tens of millions of ash trees.

Illinois is among states that eliminated its internal quarantine regulations. Illinois discontinued its quarantine mandate in fall of 2015.

Meanwhile, officials of Minnesota and North Dakota, each said they would continue to enforce state emerald ash borer regulations. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture said this includes monitoring for EAB in un-infested areas, quarantining newly infested counties and regulating movement of wood products around the state. In addition, the department said it would take on some of the work previously carried out by the USDA by limiting the movement of ash and firewood from other states into Minnesota.