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Leave the firewood at home to keep forests safe | Environment

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Leave the firewood at home to keep forests safe
Leave the firewood at home to keep forests safe

The Idaho Department of Lands is reminding outdoor enthusiasts who are planning to camp this Labor Day weekend to leave the firewood at home!

As millions of Americans head into the wilderness for a weekend of fun, many bring their own firewood, not realizing that they put the nation's forests at risk by potentially spreading tree-killing pests. While most of these pests can't travel far on their own, many can hitchhike undetected on firewood, later emerging and starting infestations in new locations hundreds of miles away.

The Don't Move Firewood campaign began in 2007 as a response to the rapid spread of the emerald ash borer, an Asian beetle brought to the US in pre-packaged wood and responsible for killing 100 million ash trees since the early 1990's.

More than 450 other non-native forest insects and diseases are also established in the United States, many spread the same way.

To limit the spread of these insects and diseases, many states regulate how far firewood can be legally transported, and some states prohibit out-of-state firewood from being brought into the state. Additionally, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has quarantines in many states on firewood and other wood products that could harbor these pests.

To help prevent the spread of invasive tree-killing insects and diseases, follow the following tips:

  • Obtain firewood near where you will burn it. The closer the better, and 10-50 miles maximum based on state regulations.
  • Wood that looks clean and healthy can still have tiny insect eggs or microscopic fungal spores that could start a new and deadly infestation. Don't risk it.
  • Aged or seasoned wood is still not safe. Insect eggs and diseases can survive for several years in unburned firewood, and some pests will re-infest cut wood.
  • Certified heat-treated firewood is a safe option if you must transport firewood.
  • Respect all state and local regulations. You can find a comprehensive list here.
  • If you already moved firewood, burn it immediately and completely. Rake up and burn the debris.
  • Tell your friends about the risks of moving firewood. Working together gives us the greatest chance of keeping our forests and trees healthy long into the future.

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