Updated: 01/23/2014 7:50 PM
Created: 01/23/2014 6:47 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
One of the most destructive insects in the nation, the gypsy moth, prompted a quarantine in Lake and Cook County to be enforced by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The restriction could have major ramifications for campers and the timber industry.
MDA officials announced the proposed quarantine at the Duluth City Hall on Thursday. Firewood restrictions may cramp campers, but timber experts said it could really hurt one of the biggest industries in the Northland.
Specialists with the MDA said gypsy moths have marched across the nation from the East Coast, and over 64,000 were trapped in Lake and Cook County last year. Decades of treatment could not stop their spread according to Gypsy Moth Program Supervisor Lucia Hunt.
“The treatments were intended to slow the spread of the insect and they have been successful, however we knew a day would come when the quarantine would be necessary. So this is no surprise,” Hunt said.
She said the moth starts as a caterpillar that strips leaves from trees. Hunt said that impacts over 1 million acres a year nationwide.
However a quarantine will force local mills and paper plants to use lumber from the affect area within five days according to the Minnesota Forest Industries. Executive Vice President Wayne Brandt said that will cut deep into Northland businesses.
“Frankly the timber in quarantined areas will be worthless. Nobody will want it. When they move into St. Louis County it will be impossible for us to comply without frankly shutting down mills,” Brandt said.
He said his group is working with the MDA to mitigate those concerns, but the current restrictions are a problem because lumber is stockpiled during the winter and processed much later.
Brandt also said loggers are not the main cause of spreading the gypsy moth. The moths grow in the bark of trees, but Brandt said loggers strip most bark in the logging process. He said campers unaware of the gypsy moth infestation are the biggest issue.
“Most of these pests get moved by individuals moving firewood. That's the problem,” Brandt said.
Hunt said surveys show a large percentage of Northlanders know about the gypsy moth problem, but they will need to be more vigilant.
“We want to keep the trees green. We want to keep our tourist attractions alive,” Hunt said.
She admits a quarantine will not completely stop the gypsy moth. The question to be addressed is how will the quarantine affect residents and industries in the Northland.
There will be two public hearings to discuss those impacts. The first is at the Lake County Courthouse in Two Harbors on Feb. 11, and the second is at the Cook County Courthouse in Grand Marais on Feb. 25.
Hunt also said the frigid temperatures in the Northlander may kill some of the moths this winter, but it won't eliminate the problem.
Coast Guard Begins Ice Breaking on Lake Superior
U.S. Coast Guard officials say ice breaking on the Duluth-Superior harbor this year will be difficult. The director of Vessel Traffic Services tells Wisconsin Public Radio that it's the most ice he's seen on the lake in 25 years.
State Patrol: 4 Killed in Southern Minn. Crash ID'd
The Minnesota State Patrol has released the identities of four people killed in a two-vehicle crash on icy roads Friday near Sleepy Eye. The broadside crash happened on Highway 14 in Brown County just after 8 p.m.
US Navy Sends Destroyer to Help in Plane Search; 2 Stolen Passports Were on Board
The U.S. Navy says it has dispatched a warship to aid in the search for a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner. The jet vanished Saturday on a flight from Malaysia to Beijing. Vietnamese air force planes report spotting a pair of large oil slicks in the area where the Boeing 777 went missing. The State Department confirms that three Americans were aboard. Additionally, Foreign Ministry Officials say two nationals listed on the manifest of the flight match passports reported stolen in Taiwan.
Robotics Wrap up in Duluth
The FIRST Robotics competition wrapped up on Saturday at the DECC. Four Northland teams made it to the semifinals, and one made it to the quarterfinals.
Brighton Beach Draws Ice Fishing Crowd on a Sunny Saturday
Brighton Beach drew quite the crowd on Saturday. The sunny weather brought people out to do some fishing before the ice was gone. Jeff Swenson said he wasn't catching much, but he was out there for the warm weather.