DATCP: Proposed Rule WILL Keep Harmful Plant Pests Out of Wisconsin

Release: 2/6/06

Contact: Jane H. Larson (608) 224-5005

MADISON-Keeping harmful insects and plant diseases out of Wisconsin is the focus of rule changes proposed by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The new rule targets particular items or ‘host material’ from infested areas in other states that could carry specific pests or plant diseases. The insects of concern are Emerald Ash Borer, Asian Longhorned Beetle, and Hemlock Woolly Adelgid along with the plant disease Phytophthora ramorum (Sudden Oak Death, ramorum leaf blight or ramorum dieback.)

“None of these pests has yet been found in Wisconsin and we want to keep it that way,” said Krista Lambrecht, plant pest and disease specialist with the state agriculture department. “Each pest poses a major threat to Wisconsin’s forest and urban landscapes. In other states where they are found, the pests have caused a great deal of environmental damage and states have spent millions of dollars to control or eliminate the pests,” Lambrecht explained.

One way to ensure that the pests aren’t introduced to Wisconsin or other non-infested areas is to regulate the movement of material that might carry the insects or disease. The rule would not allow these host materials into Wisconsin from known infested states or counties unless the items have been inspected and are certified to be pest or disease free.

“Host materials vary with the pest but include things like nursery stock, firewood, untreated lumber and mulch,” Lambrecht said.

Should any of the plant pests ever be found in Wisconsin, the rule will also regulate the movement of host material within the state to limit the spread of the insect or disease.

The proposed rule changes will have the greatest impact on the nurseries, landscapers, loggers, sawmills, and firewood dealers. Lambrecht emphasizes that the rule will protect these industries by protecting the items on which they depend.

Three public hearings are scheduled for the proposed rule. There will be a short presentation with time for questions before public testimony is heard.

* Wausau: Tues., Feb. 28; Marathon County Public Library, 300 North First St., 3rd floor, Wausau Room, 6-8 p.m.

* Waukesha: Wed., March 1; Lee Sherman Dreyfus Bldg., (across from Hardees), 141 NW Barstow St., Room 314, 6-8 p.m.

* Madison: Thurs., March 2; Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 2811 Agriculture Dr., 1st floor, Board Room, 6-8 p.m.

The department will accept written comments on the rule until Mon., April 3. Send comments to Krista Lambrecht, P.O. Box 8911, Madison, WI 53708-8911 or e-mail comments to [email protected]

The rule is available on the department’s Web site at http://datcp.state.wi.us then enter ATCP 21 in the search box. You can also contact Ms. Lambrecht at 608-224-4594 for a copy.