Not many hours after I published my second article on healing trees, I received this gentle message:
“Each week I eagerly look forward to reading your column in the Abington Suburban. This past week, though, I felt some clarification was needed on the question of moving lumber and/or firewood. More than the illegality of taking it across the international border is the concern over the movement of pests. Insects such as the emerald ash borer can hitchhike on ash logs. The current concern is over the spread of the spotted lantern fly which currently is found in 11 southeastern Pennsylvania counties. Authorities are hoping to stop its spread by rigorously monitoring the movement of wood, down to the inspection of wood pallets leaving those areas. In order to protect our trees we all need to be vigilant about the movement of wood.
“In fact, if you were to write a column sometime on the spread of tree attacking pests, especially the spotted lantern fly, it would reach many interested people as your column is very well read.
“Thanks for all you do. You have a gift for writing.”
Then, I received communication from my friends whose story had appeared in the offending article. They had heard second-hand about my story of their alleged tree smuggling. And I had gotten some of the details wrong:
Just for clarity and truth, both the Canadian and the American government gave the official permission for transport of said lumber. It’s true that it took some convincing, but as you know, we need skill with wood and words both.
In this case, the ash was bark-free milled lumber. It just did not have the required Canadian lumber stamp. In the case of bringing the birch poles into the U.S., the customs official had researched and found that birches have the same bugs on both sides of the border. In both cases, they experienced the reality of a closed international border.
The closed international border, of course, is a hot political topic these days, and as a U.S. citizen who has had the privilege of being exposed to politics north and south of the U.S./Canada border, I find great irony. As a nation, Canadians pride themselves on their receptiveness to immigrants so much that it appears on their coffee commercials. Yet they are a brick wall when it comes to unstamped, milled lumber.
The point of a well-patrolled border, of course, is to protect places dear to our family such as the Scranton Tennis Club in Clarks Summit, and the Valley Tennis & Swim Club in Shavertown. Due to U.S. border insecurity, under two decades ago, a shady immigrant named the emerald ash borer slipped in undetected. Now both clubs will have a significantly different look and bottom line without their mature ash populations.
JOSHUA ARP IS AN ISA-CERTIFIED MUNICIPAL SPECIALIST, CLARKS SUMMIT’S MUNICIPAL ARBORIST AND AN OPERATOR OF AN ORGANIC LAWN AND LANDSCAPE MAINTENANCE BUSINESS. REACH HIM AT JOSARHUAP@AOL.COM.