- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission wants campers to restrict the movement of firewood in an effort to keep an insect pest from reaching the state.

The commission is targeting the emerald ash borer, which has killed millions of ash trees in other states. Neighboring Iowa, for example, has found the insect in nine counties so far, including near Creston, less than 100 miles from the Missouri River and Nebraska to the west.

The commission is recommending that Nebraska residents acquire firewood at or near their destinations this Memorial Day weekend, rather than bringing it from other locations. The commission has started a firewood exchange program at several state park areas.

Campers at Niobrara, Ponca, Eugene T. Mahoney and Indian Cave state parks, and Branched Oak, Lewis and Clark, Pawnee and Two Rivers state recreation areas who bring firewood from other states are asked to exchange their wood at the park offices or with the campground hosts for an equal volume of locally acquired firewood.

Locally acquired firewood will be sold at park offices or concessions inside Chadron, Fort Robinson, Indian Cave, Eugene T. Mahoney, Niobrara, Platte River, Ponca and Smith Falls state parks and Branched Oak, Fremont, Lake Maloney, Lake Minatare, Lewis and Clark, Louisville, and Two Rivers state recreation areas.

Wood lying on the ground at Game and Parks properties may be collected and burned as firewood on site.

Emerald ash borers are native to Asia and were first detected in Michigan in 2002. Authorities have said the insect has killed more than 50 million ash trees since in the United States and have been found in at least 20 states. The bugs have yet to be detected in Nebraska, where millions of ash trees line streets and shade people in parks and yards.

But Nebraska officials fear migration Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. The insect has been found northeast Kansas’ Wyandotte County. And Missouri officials said ash borers were confirmed near Parkville, on the northwest side of Kansas City, Missouri.

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