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Arlington, U.S.A. — Thousands of Americans celebrate Independence Day by heading to national and state parks, campgrounds, and forests to enjoy the outdoors. Many will bring along their own firewood for convenience, not realizing that bringing firewood from home poses a serious risk to the nation’s forests by potentially spreading tree-killing pests. Many states, and several federal agencies, consider this risk severe enough to implement regulations restricting the movement of firewood, and in some places violations can come with a hefty fine.
“The Fourth of July holiday is a time when we all remember what an amazing country we live in, and healthy trees and forests are integral to the beauty of our lands and waters,” said Leigh Greenwood, Don’t Move Firewood campaign manager, The Nature Conservancy. “Tens of thousands of trees are destroyed every year by invasive tree-killing insects, and one of the most important steps everyone can take to protect our natural heritage is to stop moving forest pests to new areas on firewood. It’s really that simple.”
In many states, regulations limit how far firewood can be legally transported, and some states prohibit the entrance of out-of-state firewood altogether. These regulations most frequently include prohibitions against moving firewood over 50 miles or over state lines, although some states have stricter limits in place. For example, some states prohibit movement of firewood to state parks or other state-managed lands from more than 25 miles away. Additionally, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has federal quarantines in many states on wood products (including firewood, wooden pallets, and other materials) that could harbor pests like the Asian long-horned beetle, emerald ash borer, and other damaging pests and pathogens.
“We encourage everyone to help protect our country’s natural resources from invasive species,” said APHIS spokesperson Joelle Hayden. “Taking basic steps – like not moving firewood and following federal and state quarantines – will help keep these dangerous pests from spreading unintentionally.”
More than 450 non-native forest insects and diseases are now established in the United States. While most can’t move far on their own, many pests can hitchhike undetected on firewood, starting new infestations in locations hundreds of miles away. These infestations can destroy forests, lower property values, and cost huge sums of money to control. Over the last hundred years, introduced species of invasive insects and diseases have killed tens of millions of trees in forests, cities, and towns across the country. In addition to the Asian long horned beetle and emerald ash borer, these tree-killing pests include Dutch elm disease, Sirex woodwasp, thousand cankers disease, hemlock woolly adelgid, sudden oak death, laurel wilt, and many others.
Following are tips from the Don’t Move Firewood campaign: