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Loggers hope state quarantine on wood won't hurt business

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Albany/HV: Loggers hope state quarantine on wood won't hurt business
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A small bug in the Berkshires could have a big impact on local lumber and logging industries. YNN's Madeleine Rivera reports.

BERKSHIRE COUNTY -- "It depends on how the state is going to handle it. It can be handled in a way that our industry will not be deeply affected," said Peter Borgnis, owner of Lenox Lumber.

Those working in the lumber and logging industries in Berkshire County are knocking on wood, hoping that a state quarantine on their products won't hurt their bottom line.

"If they quarantine strictly Berkshire County, it's going to hurt the lumber industry quite a bit," explained Borgnis.

The state Department of Conservation is limiting the transportation of ashwood after an emerald ash borer beetle was found in Dalton a few months ago. They're hoping to stop the spread of the beetle throughout the state.

"Where it has been, it's been pretty much 100 percent fatal to ash trees, it doesn't just kill some of them or just some of the suppressed trees, it kills all of them," said Dicken Crane, President of the Massachusetts Forest Alliance.

But, according to the federal government, the smallest area that can be quarantined is a county. And, this is a problem for the loggers in the Berkshires.

"The huge problem's going to be if they quarantine strictly Berkshire County, there are no dry kiln facilities within Berkshire County, so there's no way of heat-treating the product before it leaves," said Borgnis.

Borgnis said that the quarantine can really hurt the loggers and lumbers' industries because ashwood is used for a lot of different materials including flooring and firewood. It's also interesting to note that Berkshire County has the highest concentration of ashwood trees in Massachusetts.

State officials, loggers, and forest landowners hope they can reach some middle ground.

"We probably won't figure out how to make it go away. But, we can figure out how to manage our forests knowing that it's coming," said Crane.

Loggers have until next Wednesday to tell the DCR what they think.

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