Dying oak trees

A reader question about their dying oaks, and what to do about it…


Dear Don't Move Firewood,

We've had some oak trees die in our neighborhood this summer. I've lost one and was wondering if there was something I could do, like maybe add something to the soil that might help.


Concerned Tree Owner


Dear Concerned,


I'm sorry to hear about your oaks. There are many things that could be affecting your oaks- some of them are environmental (like drought stress) and others are native pests (like two-lined chestnut borer) and lastly, it could be non-native pests (like goldspotted oak borer or Sudden oak death). However, without further information, I have no idea what might be the issue with your oaks.


However, as we have said before, the most important thing after you have noticed something is wrong is to ask a professional for help. A certified arborist, a master gardener, or someone from the County Extension offices near you might be able to come over and give a diagnosis- or at least a really good guess- regarding what's up with your trees. In some cases, treatments could be reasonable and affordable. In other cases, the tree may not be saved. You won't know until you have a qualified opinion from someone that knows your area.


Good luck, and I hope you can save your other trees.


Request for a firewood permit

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, we got a request for a permit to move a cord of firewood across New England, through several states and over 160 miles. For one thing, we don't have the authority to give out permits. But more importantly- this isn't a good idea. New England has a wide variety of forest pests, many of which have only a few locations where they are infesting the trees. Moving firewood that far has the potential to make a new infestation- one literally right in your backyard.


So, can you legally take a cord of wood from central Vermont, through New Hampshire, and then use it all winter in Southern Massachusetts, right near the Rhode Island border? Technically, yes, assuming you don't drive through the quarantined area around Worcester in central Massachusetts and put yourself in a position to accidentally violate the terms of the Asian longhorned beetle quarantine. But please don't move firewood that far. Even if you did burn it all by April, when insects and diseases in the wood could emerge, it simply isn't a smart move for the health of your trees and forests.





Christmas Trees question time!

It is that time of year again, when everyone starts emailing us here at Don’t Move Firewood to ask the excellent, pertinent, logical question: BUT WHAT ABOUT CHRISTMAS TREES?

Easy! Just like firewood- buy local, and/or buy from a reputable dealer. Christmas trees are actually a pretty well regulated product, so as long as you are buying from a licensed local business, your potential to accidentally spread pests is very low. For our full listing on this topic, visit our Holiday Greenery Resource Page. Happy Holiday Season!

Press Release: The Importance of Trees in Hurricane Sandy

This just in! Don't Move Firewood's official press release for Superstorm Sandy in regards to tree health, safety, and awareness.

The Importance of Trees in Hurricane Sandy:

How to Keep our Trees Healthy and Resilient in the Aftermath

Hurricane Sandy took down countless trees along the East Coast this week—toppling onto cars and
buildings, blocking roads, and tragically causing the deaths of at least a dozen people along the East
Coast. In the aftermath of severe storms like this, trees get lots of attention and are pointed to as the
cause of loss of power and damage to property. However, while some trees do come down in high wind
and extreme weather events, the majority of healthy trees survive severe storms and slow down high
winds while absorbing both excess rainfall and heavy storm waters.

In the wake of major storms like Hurricane Sandy, it is extremely important to remember that moving
storm debris, limbs, and downed trees over long distances can inadvertently spread tree-killing insects
to new places. Many areas affected by Hurricane Sandy are under quarantines that specifically prohibit
the movement of tree-based storm debris (including debris that has been cut into pieces of firewood).

Nearly all the states affected by Hurricane Sandy have at least one quarantined county that regulates
the movement of wood in order to minimize the spread of invasive tree pests such as Asian longhorned
beetle and emerald ash borer. Storm debris from downed trees and branches should be disposed of using one
of the following safer ways: brought to a local solid waste facility (i.e. landfill), set out for or brought to a
licensed city composting facility, brought to a registered storm debris disposal yard, or used on site for
firewood. Consult local newspapers and storm information to find out which of these options is best in
your area.

It is especially important to remember that trees planted near homes and roads need to be properly
pruned to minimize potential damage and failure, especially near power lines. When planting new trees,
it is helpful to select a species that will not grow too tall and interfere with power lines to minimize
future damage. As cities look to replant choosing the right tree and putting the right tree in the right
place will create a more sustainable—and storm resistant—landscape for years to come.

Despite the damage trees can cause in extreme weather events, healthy trees in urban and suburban
areas are important for a safer and cleaner urban infrastructure. Trees provide the many benefits to
both people and wildlife in city settings:

• Improving water quality by minimizing erosion, slowing the flow of precipitation, and minimizing
flooding during heavy rain events
• Mitigating climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air, regulating local climate by
lowering daily temperature variation, and reducing energy expenditure on heating and cooling
• Providing shade and improving local air quality by removing air pollutants and producing oxygen
• Creating valuable habitat for wildlife, and shade and a natural environment for city residents


Learn more about The Right Tree in the Right Place at the Arbor Day Foundation


To learn more about the issue of the movement of firewood, please visit

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world
to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy
and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of
more than 18 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117
million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit us on the Web at