New house to old house?

The Dear Don't Move Firewood column that we post periodically is taken directly from emails that we receive here at the website. One letter that we got this weekend was so specific, however, that we can't really run it without compromising someone's identity. Intriguing, right?


I'll leave you hanging, but the substantial takeaway messages are the same as always.

  • – Moving firewood 90 miles across a single state is too far, and not a good idea. Especially, of course, if the state has multiple quarantined counties for multiple pests.
  • – If you find out someone has moved firewood that far, and you are able to kindly persuade them to immediately burn all the wood they moved, that is the best option.
  • – When you are having trouble convincing someone that they should not move firewood, try finding someone they WILL listen to as backup. Maybe they have a friend that is a Master Gardener? Or can you find an article in the online archives of your local newspaper?


And best of all, you can always submit your questions to us here at Don't Move Firewood for a neutral assessment of the situation. We are helpful, usually prompt, and pretty well versed in national and local regulations.


Good luck. Email us at info at dont move firewood dot org to submit your questions!

Press Release: Look for tree pests during Great Backyard Bird Count

NEWS RELEASE — For Immediate Release

Contact: Sarah Volkman, 215-622-0557



Looking for sickly or damaged trees and shrubs during the annual bird count can help preserve vital wildlife habitats.

Arlington, VA—February 15, 2013— This weekend, bird watchers worldwide participating in the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 15-18, are encouraged to look for and report signs of tree pests like the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, and many more. During the bird count, participants simply watch birds at any location for at least 15 minutes, tally the numbers of each species they see, and report their tallies online. While conducting these surveys, bird watchers are also encouraged to look at the birds’ habitats for signs of invasive insects and diseases.


“The Great Backyard Bird Count is an ideal opportunity for bird watchers to check the trees for signs of invasive pests like Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) and Emerald Ash Borer (EAB),” said Jennifer Forman Orth, State Plant Pest Survey Coordinator at the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. “The damage from these insects can easily be seen in winter, when there are no leaves on the trees, and birdwatchers are typically armed with a pair of binoculars that will help them check high-up branches for the perfectly round holes left by ALB in maples and other hardwoods, or the D-shaped exit holes and increased woodpecker activity associated with EAB infestations in ash trees.”


Many of the forest pests and diseases that affect trees can be stopped or slowed if they are found and treated early enough by the proper authorities. The Nature Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood program works with USDA APHIS and many state agencies nationwide encouraging people to report all signs of potential forest pests.


“Trees and forests are an essential part of our lives, and they provide shade and shelter, jobs and products, and clean air and water. From tree-lined neighborhood streets to national parks, we count on trees to provide benefits today and for generations to come,” says Bill Toomey, Director of Forest Health Protection for The Nature Conservancy. “That’s why it’s critical for everyone to be aware of the trees around them, and to report the signs of destructive tree pests to the proper authorities.”


Participants in the Great Backyard Bird Count should report any suspicious damage or signs of forest pests as soon as they have concluded entering their bird data. Bird watchers are encouraged to take digital photos of any damage observed, identify the species of tree with the damage if possible, and then report findings using websites or state hotlines. Below is a sampling of websites for regionally and nationally important invasive forest pests.



To learn more about Don’t Move Firewood, 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


Cottonwood and Pecan to California

Let's finish up this week right with a question for our advice column, Dear Don't Move Firewood.


Dear Don't Move Firewood,


Can I bring either or both Cottonwood and/or Pecan firewood into California from Arizona?  I have relatives there  and access to such wood…. I would be bringing the wood on the I-10 through the Blythe area. The Cottonwood would be coming from Globe, AZ and the Pecan from the Gilbert/Phoenix area.  I'm not sure which I would get, probably the Pecan as I think it may burn better? (Ed. note: question lightly edited for clarity)



Jim from California


Dear Jim,


I posed your question to the local expert, Don Owen from the Calif. Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection. He's the chair of the California Firewood Task Force. Here's his response:


"The CA Firewood Task Force does not recommend bringing firewood of any kind into the state unless it has been treated to eliminated pests.  There is no quarantine that prevents the movement of this wood, but if it is infested with insects or other pests, the CA Agricultural Border Stations may confiscate and destroy it."


My opinion, as the manager of Don't Move Firewood, is that moving cottonwood and pecan wood this far is really not a good idea and you shouldn't do it. Even if you lived in Blythe (which it looks like you live farther West into CA given your email, but setting that aside) you'd be moving this wood over 240 miles- that's almost five times the very maximum recommended distance for moving firewood.


There are many tree pests even in the arid areas of Arizona that you'd risk transporting. Did you know that the goldspotted oak borer, which has killed tens of thousands of oaks in San Diego County, might have gotten there from firewood originating in Arizona? You'd hate to be responsible for killing tens of thousands of California pecan trees, accidentally, if your wood had some previously unknown pests within it.


So here's the bottom line- please don't move that firewood. Truthfully, it wouldn't be against the law to do it, but it isn't a good decision, and it may end up confiscated at the CA border anyway.


Thanks for asking!