Apple and Oak to the Great Smoky Mountains?

Let's start off this Monday right with our occasional advice column, Dear Don't Move Firewood!


Dear Don't Move Firewood,

Is it legal to move fruit wood (I.e., apple / plum) from non-quarantined counties to the great smoky mtns?  Same question for oak.




Dear Mike,

Excellent question, and a tough one. Apple, plum, and oak woods are all hardwoods, and therefore subject to many many quarantines around the country. If, indeed, you are moving wood from a completely non-quarantined county, it would probably be technically legal. However- the list of quarantined counties is vast (see here for a recent list


More importantly, the list of quarantined counties does not include counties that have pests that are undiscovered- of course! And that right there is a reality. There are pests that can travel in apple, plum, and oak firewood that might be present, but not yet quarantined, in your area.


Therefore, here's our suggestion. If you live in a completely non-quarantined county, and are less than 50 miles from Great Smoky Mountains national park, it is very unlikely to cause harm to move your firewood, so that's OK. But if you are farther away, please play it safe. Use the wood at home, and buy or gather wood at the park.



Don't Move Firewood


P.S. Apple and Plum wood are great for smoked meat recipes. Maybe you could get creative and smoke a turkey for Thanksgiving? Keep the wood at home for a delicious treat.


There’s a sticker that says Go Ahead, Move Firewood

Maybe you’ve seen it- the bumper sticker that says, “Go Ahead, Move Firewood. The bugs will get there eventually anyway.” And you may be able to guess that here at Don’t Move Firewood, we don’t really appreciate that sentiment. Because while some bugs might get there eventually…


Wait… what? Did we just say the bugs WILL get there eventually? OK, not exactly. This is complicated.


Let’s take the case of European Spongy Moth. In the 140 years since spongy moth arrived, it has since infested roughly 1/4 of the country. The moth sadly does quite well in native North American forests, so the slow expansion of the edge of the spongy moth territory is indeed inevitable.


But in the case of a pest like the Asian longhorned beetle, they shouldn’t and won’t get there eventually. The Asian longhorned beetle moves slowly and doesn’t fly far. Eradication of every ALB in all the known infestations is totally possible- if the right steps are taken, like not moving firewood and reporting all bug sightings.


That’s why we here at Don’t Move Firewood strenously disagree with this bumper sticker- there are too many situations in which moving firewood is completely making the problem bigger, worse, and much more expensive.


But wait! Let’s look back at spongy moth. Right now, the spread of this pest is curtailed by a slew of really effective programs, including trapping, local eradication, phermone releases (this keeps the moths from breeding so effectively), public education, and of course Don’t Move Firewood efforts. These efforts will combine to protect 160 million acres of trees from death by moth over the next 20 years. That is a LOT of trees that will shade your street, homes, and natural places for another two decades if you live somewhere like Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois… states on the edge of the spongy moth line.


Wouldn’t you rather that spongy moth takes another THREE HUNDRED years to reach the Pacific Ocean? Not a three day road trip in contaminated firewood, but rather three CENTURIES? That’s the goal of Don’t Move Firewood. We have hope that your actions, and the actions of your friends, will make a difference for today, tomorrow, and even hundreds of years.


don't move firewood, it bugs me sticker for not moving firewooddon't move firewood sticker that says that's what tree said don't move firewood

Impressive new study released on insects in firewood

All our favorite facebook, twitter, and email accounts are buzzing today with the news of the newly released scientific paper on live tree pests (both insects and other arthropods) that emerge from firewood. You can read an excellent short summary of the paper here, titled Insects Found in Nearly 50% of Retail Firewood, or you can read the whole paper here if you have a subscription.


The one highlight that really sticks out for me is that live insects emerged from 47% of the firewood bundles in the study. That means that half of the firewood could have served to create a new insect infestation.


We'll report on this study more once we've had a chance to read the whole thing!