Apple maggot quarantine area extended to Methow Valley

Apples ripen along Monse River Road.

OLYMPIA – The state’s apple maggot quarantine is being extended into parts of Okanogan County in an effort to slow down the invasive pest and protect commercial apple production.

The state Department of Agriculture announced the expanded area late last week. Changes take effect Nov. 9.

An apple maggot quarantine is in effect in all or parts of 24 counties, mostly in western Washington. The expanded area now includes the Methow Valley north of Gold Creek.

The quarantine prohibits anyone from moving home-grown or foraged fruit from a quarantined area into or through a pest-free area. The quarantine affects both household waste and municipal green waste, including yard debris such as grass clippings, fruit, soil, leaves and woody debris, such as branches and twigs.

Under the conditions of the expanded quarantine, residents cannot put prohibited green waste materials into their trash. Instead, the green waste must be separated from other solid waste so it can be properly treated before it is moved into or through a pest-free area, agriculture officials said.

The expanded quarantine will affect operations at the Twisp Transfer Station, located within the quarantine area, and the Okanogan County Central Landfill, which is in a pest-free area. Both are managed by Okanogan County Public Works.

To comply with the quarantine, all waste coming into the Twisp Transfer Station will need to be separated, whether it is brought in by commercial haulers or self-hauled by residents.

Okanogan County officials said they are evaluating options for treating and transporting green waste generated in the area.

The plan will require state Department of Agriculture approval and may require a special permit, agriculture department officials said.

Apple maggot is a pest that threatens the apple industry and fruit crops such as cherries, pears, plums, plus crabapples and hawthorn. The pest has never been detected in commercially packed Washington fruit.

More information and a map of the quarantine area is on the agriculture department’s website, https://agr.wa.gov.

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