Emerald Ash Borer quarantine creating issues for businesses too

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STEEN, Minn. (KFSY) - The discovery and confirmation of Emerald Ash Borer in Sioux Falls on Wednesday has many concerned about their ash trees, but the quarantine also isn't helping others.

"We do not want any wood products moved out of the quarantine," said Dr. John Ball, the Forest Health Specialist for the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, on Wednesday.

"One of the ways that emerald ash borer is easily spread is if someone cuts down an ash tree within the quarantine area and haul[s] it outside the quarantine area, they are now spreading the infestation," Ball said.

Because the Emerald Ash Borer just hide under the bark, so your tree might not even show signs it's infected for years.

In Steen, Minn. FBT Sawmill co-owner Mitch Bonestroo said the Emerald Ash Borer quarantine in Iowa has been an issue for awhile.

"From Iowa from May 1 on... we can't take ash on the yard," Bonestroo said. "It has to stay in Iowa then after October 1, we can go and pick it up from the Iowa location or have people deliver it."

That creates a bit of an issue, because FBT Sawmill uses ash wood for many of its products. If the wood comes from just over the border in Iowa -- it has to stay there for half the year.

"May slow it down a little bit, but people still bring it in once in awhile," Bonestroo said. "But for the most part they follow the law."

But this latest quarantine in Minnehaha and parts of Lincoln and Turner Counties, might create a bit more trouble.

"We do a quite a bit of business with people in Sioux Falls," Bonestroo said. "We get a lot of logs from the Sioux Falls area so it could put a damper on a few things."

FBT Sawmill does it all from start to finish ... there's no middle man. They take your wood, cut it, process it and burn it, if you'd like ... and they make handmade rustic decor... tables, chairs, other furniture and art, laser cut plaques and much more. They even recently added a brand new kiln that dries wood in half the time their old kiln took -- just a few days -- instead of weeks, speeding up the process.

But the quarantine doesn't make a lot of sense to them.

"It's a good idea in theory, but it's not thought out real well because nothing is going to stop that bug from crossing the imaginary line in my road right now," Bonestroo said.

That imaginary line in the street? Half of FBT Sawmill is in Minnesota ... and the other half across the street ... is in Iowa.

"So if we put the logs in Iowa across the road in a ditch, nothing will stop it [the bugs] from crossing the road."

But if they bring it across the road, it's technically illegal. So they wish someone would come up with a better solution and consult them about it.

"If we could talk to somebody higher up the chain to get a common sense approach to solve the problem," Bonestroo said. "Instead of just parking it in Iowa until the transport time comes, it'd be better to cut it, process it, and kiln dry and then it's done and we can take care of it from there."

Because the Emerald Ash Borer lives just under the bark of the tree and doesn't affect the hardwood, Bonestroo said it would be better to just bring the wood across the street and burn the bark, which would kill the bugs, instead of letting it sit for six months.

FBT Sawmill is having an open house to display dozens of their handcrafted pieces on June 16. It starts at 8 a.m. and goes until about 4 p.m., but they will keep the showroom open as long as people are there. Bonestroo said there will be food at the open house as well.

FBT Sawmill is located at 1055 11th St, Steen, Minn. or 1055 100th St.