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California has more ag restrictions than we do

I just read your article on the problem with taking firewood long distances and spreading invasive bugs and plants. It raises some good points. But I have a question: Why isn't there a bug station for people coming into Oregon from California? We have to go through one when we go into California. It seems like that would stop a lot of invasive species brought by people coming into Oregon from California.

— Ruth B., Shady Cove

You bring up something that has probably bugged a lot of people over the years, Ruth.

So we asked Bruce Pokarney, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Agriculture, why our state has no agricultural check station for our southern friends heading north.

The reason, he noted, is that the two states simply have different approaches to the solution.

"Obviously, our agriculture is important, and we need to protect it," he said. "But we've dealt with it differently. Rather than using border check stations, we do it through a certification process."

In other words, Oregon makes sure that commercial products coming into the state are certified to be bug- and disease-free.

"California is also a huge agriculture state that has a lot more restrictions than we do on what is allowed in," Pokarney said of that state's billion-dollar-plus industry.

As a result of a much-larger industry, California has the potential for a much greater loss, he said.

However, he noted, that doesn't lessen the importance of Oregon's agricultural industry to Oregonians.

"They have quarantines set up," he said. "We also have some quarantines but not nearly what California has.

"And, historically, we don't have the budget to set up those check stations," he added. "But we feel we have effective ways to stop most invasive species and plant diseases from coming into the state."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.