The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is changing its approach to fighting the emerald ash borer (EAB) infestation that has spread through much of the United States. The agency announced in December it was publishing a final rule that removes the federal domestic EAB quarantine regulations that have proved ineffective and will redirect resources to more promising methods.
APHIS 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. Results have already proved effective, and the actions announced in December will allow the agency to increase their use.
Removing the quarantine regulations ends APHIS’ domestic regulatory activities, which include actions such as issuing permits, certificates and compliance agreements, making site visits and conducting investigations of suspected violations.
The final rule and the response to the comments APHIS received were published in the Federal Register on December 15, 2020, and the rule will become effective January 14, 2021. Documents may be viewed online at www.regulations.gov/docket?D=APHIS-2017-0056 upon publication.
APHIS 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.
APHIS’ goal is still to maintain ash in the North American landscape, and it plans to continue collaborating with its partners in this effort.
Questions about the regulatory change for emerald ash borer can be directed to Herb Bolton, APHIS national policy manager, at 301-851-3594 or Herbert.Bolton@usda.gov.