Paper industry takes precautions against pests

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The threat of an invasive species is changing business practices for one of the largest employers in Carlton County in the northern part of the state.

The Pine Journal reports that Sappi Fine Paper in Cloquet has stopped buying chips, bark and other logging residue from the Superior, Wis. area because of the presence of the emerald ash borer in that city. Sappi has burned the products in its boilers to provide electricity.

In mid-August, city officials in Superior confirmed the presence of the metallic-green bug in the North End neighborhood. The Superior Telegram reports the city has removed 65 trees since then.

The University of Minnesota Extension says the emerald ash borer has killed millions of Midwestern ash trees since it arrived from China in 2002.

Meanwhile, the infestation could create a supply issue for Sappi, which gets a substantial portion of wood for its products from Wisconsin, buying primarily aspen, maple and ash.

The Superior Telegram reports that the Douglas County (Wis.) Forestry Department will host a meeting Monday to answer questions about how the state quarantine impacts the forest product industry in northwest Wisconsin and northeast Minnesota. A state quarantine in twenty Wisconsin counties restricts residents and businesses from moving any ash firewood, nursery stock, logs or timber out of the quarantine area to prevent the spread of the pest.

Most wood products from Douglas County, Wis. are transported to Minnesota. Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection regulates the quarantine for timber that stays in Wisconsin, but federal regulations have jurisdiction when wood is transported out of state.

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