I've known about the Green Ash borer problem for some time but just
recently saw a local program about it on PBS. The following is done
from memory and may not be totally accurate, but the gist of the
program was this:
In the summer of 2003, some six million Ash trees were dead or dying
because of the Green Ash Borer. At the time, this insect was confined
to five or six counties in S.E. Michigan. It is suspected that it
entered the U.S. by way of packing materials or dunnage from somewhere
in the Orient.
Today, a year later, the borer has spread to Ontario, Ohio, Indiana
and Illinois. This rapid spread is attributed almost entirely to the
transportation of infected logs and firewood by people. On it's own,
the borer would only spread about a mile a year.
The borer kills by chewing thru the cambium layer, all around the
tree. Once this happens, the tree is no longer able to uptake water
and nutrients and its death is swift and certain. The number of
infected trees is now in the tens of millions, and at the current rate
of spread, the entire U.S. supply of Ash will be gone in a few years.
In Michigan, the trees are being cut, chipped up and burned. As you
can guess, this is a long & laborious process, is wasteful of a
beautiful natural product, and is having little effect because of the
aforementioned human transport problem.
Slabbing off the outer portions of the log and burning only that,
while preserving the inner, uninfected portion of the wood is a viable
alternative except that there are so many trees and so few (relative)
Personal note. Ash is a beautiful wood which can be finished in a
variety of ways. My favorite is filler, analine dye and lacquer.
Small knot areas will yield an irridescence which is spectacular.
Please make everyone you know aware of this insect problem. It would
be quite shameful to lose so beautiful a natural resource when the
means to prevent it are so easy. Don't take firewood with you on that
camping trip, and dont transport any logs out of the infected area.