LEONHARDT: Help Protect WV’s Most Valuable Resource

Don’t Help To Spread Invasive Pests
Opinion
By Kent A. Leonhardt
West Virginia Commissioner Of Agriculture
Michael Arnold
WVDA Plant Pest Regulatory Program Coordinator
Eric Ewing
USDA State Plant Health Director

Commissioner Kent A. Leonhardt

Are you helping invasive pests spread in West Virginia or around the United States? You may have heard that invasive plant pests and diseases are primarily introduced through commercial trade and that’s true. Although, once they are here, these destructive plant pests don’t move far on their own. They are mostly spread by human activity. From moving firewood from the home to the campsite, to mailing a gift of homegrown fruits or plants, we can contribute to the unintentional spread of any number of destructive plant pests. The point is, every day actions matter when it comes to stopping the spread of invasive species.

Damaging pests, like the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetles, are a threat to all forests within the Mountain State. These pests can hide in firewood, logs, wood packing material or on trees and shrubs. Fortunately, one of these pests, Asian longhorned beetle, is not in our state and we need your help to keep it that way.

Unlike the Asian longhorned beetle, our state is in a battle against the emerald ash borer. We know this little critter didn’t fly to West Virginia on its own, it hitchhiked. We assume through the transport of campground firewood, the ash borer made its way from Michigan to West Virginia. As a result of this accidental transport, all of our urban, suburban and rural ash trees are at risk. The ash borer destroys trees from the inside out leaving no tree untouched. The risks from ash borer stretch well beyond our borders and now threatens at least 30 other states.

If we allow invasive pests to enter our borders, these pests could devastate our neighborhoods, public green spaces and cause damage to native species of plants, forests, watersheds, lakes, rivers and water delivery systems. As it stands, damage from invasive plant pests costs our nation about $40 billion annually. It is important for everyone to learn more about these destructive plant pests and to take steps to help stop the spread of invasive species.

To protect our state, we are asking West Virginians to join us in the battle against invasive plant pest and diseases.Give us a call to learn what you can do. This April, Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month, we urge you to help stop the spread of these harmful pests.

Semper Fi