Everyday Environmentalist

Buy It Where You’ll Burn It

"The real cost of moving firewood is a lot higher than you might suspect."

Leigh Greenwood, Outreach Program Director, Forest Health Program

By Leigh Greenwood

Taking a bundle of firewood from your backyard with you when you’re going camping might seem like a good idea. Who wants to worry about buying or finding firewood when you arrive at your campsite?

But think again. The real cost of moving firewood is a lot higher than you might suspect. Invasive tree killing pests — like the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, and goldspotted oak borer — are known to travel undetected in firewood. And when you move that firewood over long distances, you can accidentally give these pests a free ride to the very trees that you enjoy sitting beneath at your favorite camping spot.

On their own in your neighborhood or a forest, invasive insects don’t travel much farther than from one tree to the next. But in the back of your car or truck, they can make it hundreds of miles — and they won’t be shy about making themselves a meal out of the trees at your destination.

No one wants to be the one who started a new outbreak that destroyed a park or campground. And no one wants to see a city street or forest robbed of its beautiful green tree canopy. If that’s not enough to convince you, in some states and counties, moving firewood is illegal and subject to serious fines.

Protecting the places you love is simple. Instead of taking firewood from home, buy your firewood at or near your campsite. Buy it where you’ll burn it. And don’t take any extra firewood home with you.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind when you’re gearing up for your camping trip:

  • Never assume that firewood is safe because it looks healthy. Some invasive insects are tiny and the eggs they lay are often microscopic.
  • When you buy firewood near your campsite, ask the seller where they got the wood. If it isn't nearby, or if they don't know where the wood is from, you should consider another firewood dealer.
  • Find out if your state has a safe firewood certification process. If it does, ask to see the seller's certificate.
  • If you absolutely must take firewood with you, and you won’t be violating any regulations or laws, it is a good alternative to select packaged firewood with a kiln-dried stamp or heat certification.
  • For more information, funny videos, and interactive games about this issue, visit dontmovefirewood.org

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not represent those of The Nature Conservancy.


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