White Ash, Emerald Borer, Quarantine, and De-Barking

Technical and legal isues relating to log transport, hygeine, and limiting the spread of damaging insect infestations. September 6, 2010

I looked at a stand of timber today with a variety of species of both hard and softwood. There are some very good ash logs but the area is under quarantine for an insect which nibbles on the ash trees under the bark. The logs can be removed without the bark. I do not have a portable mill. I had thought of a chainsaw mill or debarker on a chainsaw. If the logs are end coated and left, would they peel?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I suspect that you are talking about the emerald ash borer. The restrictions in some states apply to a variety of species, as the police powers cannot identify species too well. Is your mill also in the quarantine area? If so, I was not aware of transport restrictions within the area, so you might double check this. This insect is very dangerous and is spreading due to wood transportation.

I would question how well the logs must be debarked. Commercial debarkers are not perfect. I know that some ash logs do not have slippery bark, but I do not know why the bark is tight on some and loose on other logs, except that living trees cut in the spring have loose bark usually.

From contributor T:
From what I remember you're in the great white north, so your laws and rules may be different. I would check with your local DNR just to be safe. Here in Ohio you are allowed to transport logs and firewood within a quarantine area without any issue. I believe it states that to transport out of the quarantine area you must have all bark removed. As the Dr. brought up, how well may be subject to interpretation.

From contributor P:
Bark is usually easier to remove if it's done during the spring when the sap starts flowing.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Contributor P's comment is correct, but only for living trees.

From contributor J:
Not sure where you are, but in Ontario it's not sufficient to just remove the bark. The bark and cambium layer must be removed to a depth of 2.5cm (1inch) below the cambium layer, so a portable mill of some kind is almost a necessity. For information about Ontario regs, you will have to contact or visit the website of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

From the original questioner:
Thank you. The logs are in southern Ontario, in Caledon, which is just north of Toronto. My mill is about 50 miles north, just north of Barrie. I cut mainly softwoods and wanted to sell off much of the hardwood logs for veneer. The price is still up for maple and black cherry. The buyer was not interested in the ash. It would appear that a small band mill would be the answer. I was not aware of how much material had to be removed.

If the logs were squared to the proper depth and end coated, how much checking should I allow in the log length? The logs are not overly big, approximately 14-15 inches at a l0 ft length. I would cut the logs this month, ship to the mill, and cut in March and April. We have had a fairly mild winter so far; it may dip to minus 25 C this week. If the logs are squared and the slabs and remaining material left in the bush, will the cold snaps we get of minus 35-40 degrees kill off the insects that are exposed?

From contributor T:
I am also in Ontario, not in the quarantine area. I would suggest hiring a portable mill to go to the cut site and mill your logs. Make sure that all bark and cambium layer is removed at the site. Once the lumber is cut, I assume that it would be legal to transport. As far as the slabs and waste are concerned, they could not be transported. I am not sure if it might be okay to give them to someone in the quarantine area as firewood. Probably the safest thing is to ask the MNR in Midhurst for their guidance.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I did some homework on the MNR web site and picked up some info on the control of this insect. As Gene stated, very dangerous. The area I am moving the mill to is just south of Elmvale. There are some ash logs on the property which we will be cutting and milling. I understand now that the cut lumber is not at risk provided there is no bark left. Burning of the slabs would probably be the best use of them to prevent spread.

From contributor R:
I work with the moving of ash and deal with the CFIA all the time. If you have ash in a quarantined area and you need to move it, you need to have it inspected and have a movement certificate with it. This is the only way you can move the ash. The only way to kill the bug as far as I know is by heat treating the lumber; I don't think cold will do it.

From contributor J:
What contributor R has posted is technically correct, and I have no argument with it. However, in my conversations with our local CFIA rep, we discussed this very issue (permits/inspection), and were informed that as long as I keep a log of movements, and also am sure to slab to a depth of at least 25mm below the cambium layer, he would have no complaints and wouldn't require the inspections or certificates. This is based on the idea that as a very small operator I would have less volume of ash movement, and would be better able to deal with it correctly, without CFIA supervision. He was quite willing to work on an intermittent inspection basis, and apply common sense to the process. He advised me that the CFIA is looking for larger companies who are trying to avoid/evade the regulations in order to save money and time. The folks who contact him in an effort to get advice/support, in order to comply with the ministerial order, are the ones he doesn't have to worry about. I'd go ahead and slab it deep, bury or burn the slabs (as per regulations), and keep a log with photos of what you move.