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10/25/2010 12:28 PM
Posted by: L. Greenwood

New to the idea of not moving firewood? Staring out the back window of your home or cabin at a stack of firewood that you now know might be a huge potential hazard to the health of your local trees? We can help.


Your next steps depend on one simple question- is the wood from in and around your property? Or was it brought in from far away?


If it is from in and around your property, it likely poses no threat to your trees, or to anyone else's trees, as long as you don't move it very far. Letting it rot is totally fine. Chipping it to use as mulch under your shrubs is a good idea. Burning it in your stove or fire pit could be fun and practical. Even bringing it to a nearby landfill or composting facility is OK, as long as that facility is right in your town. The problem would be if you take it to your cabin a few counties away, or if you stack it on the roadside for strangers to pick up and take it to who-knows-where. That's the kind of thing you want to avoid- moving it far poses a risk to the trees in that new location.


Now, if that wood you are looking at is from far away, it might be contaminated with forest pests or diseases. These are often impossible to see, so don't just trust yourself to inspect the wood. The best option for disposing of firewood that has already been moved is to burn it. In an ideal world, you'd invite over a few friends for an evening, buy some marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers, and have a large bonfire to burn it all at once. Festive, quick, and effective!


If that isn't feasible (it may not be legal or practical to have a bonfire, depending on where you live) another option would be to burn it more slowly through more typical means- like a wood stove. Most important would be to burn it completely well before spring arrives, and to ensure you carefully rake the site right down to the dirt to get any straggling bark, twigs, or little chips.


If you've been bringing in firewood from long distances for years now, it really might be in your best interest to call someone to have your trees inspected for pests. Check out this map to find your local State Plant Health Director office- they can direct you to the right authority to have someone come look at your trees.


And lastly, be safe in the future. When you cut or collect wood on your property, just use it there- don't move it. And remember- bonfires are only a stopgap measure to help you correct the mistake of moving firewood. From now on, only buy locally cut and sourced wood. A general rule of thumb is 50 miles from the source, but closer is always better. Support local businesses and keep your trees safe- don't move firewood.


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