From Ohio to Michigan?

Dear Don't Move Firewood,

We live in Michigan, and I have a co-worker who is cutting down a Maple tree in Ohio, right across the border. They are offering their firewood to us, is it ok to move firewood across the stateline between (edited to remove city names) approx. 17-20 miles? Both areas are quarantined.

Thank you,

Firewood User


Dear Firewood User,

Thanks for asking this important question. Michigan is indeed under quarantine for the emerald ash borer, and Ohio has two types of quarantines- a regional quarantine for the emerald ash borer, and an small area (far from your part of the state) under quarantine for Asian longhorned beetle. Because of this, I asked an expert, Sharon Lucik with the Emerald Ash Borer Program of USDA-APHIS, for some help. She replied, "Not moving firewood long distances and making sure to purchase only treated firewood are two best practices to support healthy trees and forests. Given that, there are no emerald ash borer regulations prohibiting you from transporting firewood Ohio* to Michigan. Remember, untreated firewood can harbor invasive wood pests and diseases, so USDA continues to promote the “Don’t Move Firewood” message as part of its public outreach and educational efforts."


* Note that Sharon evaluated moving maple firewood from your coworker's town in Ohio, which is not a town that is under quarantine for Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). Maple, ash, birch and many other types of firewood ABSOLUTELY CANNOT be moved out of the ALB quarantined areas of Ohio. Speaking of the ALB, for anyone that is ever cutting down a maple tree, it is a really good idea to use that opportunity to look at the tree for signs of the Asian longhorned beetle. August will be the first ever Tree Check Month– so download this great one page handout if you want to learn more about that!



Moving ‘fake log’ firewood and pellets

The Dear Don’t Move Firewood hotline is jumping this week! Thanks to everyone that writes in- keeps us nice and busy, and keeps all our readers thinking about firewood.

Dear Don’t Move Firewood,

Is it OK to bring my own Presto logs to burn?  Or wood pellets?  Both of these are distributed all over North America, often far from the place where they were made.


‘Fake Log’ Firewood User

Dear FLFU,

It is OK! Not only is it OK, it is a great alternative to standard firewood. I can’t say yes or no for any particular brand of ‘fake log’ firewood (Presto being just one of many, many acceptable brands out there), but anything that has been finely chipped or pelletized, kiln dried, and then recompressed into logs is very safe to move. If you ever have any doubt about a quarantine or boundary that you need to cross with your processed firewood, don’t unwrap or open the packaging until you arrive at your destination. If the product is still in the original wrapper, it is abundantly obvious these aren’t natural logs, and all marks of heat treatment and processing are easily seen in case of a problem.

Personally, I would tend towards a fake log product that is compressed and made into a log shape without the use of glues and binding agents, just to minimize the potential chemicals that I might inhale once it is burned. There are lots of great products out there to choose from, so do a little shopping around to find one that seems best for you.

For more on compressed and processed wood products and why we cannot endorse any particular brand or product, even though we think the product category as a whole is a great thing, please read our complete blog on that topic: Compressed wood, fake logs, pellets, and more


Wait, so what about pallets?

One of the most perennial questions we get here at Don’t Move Firewood is best described as the infinite variations of…can I burn pallets? move pallets? use pallet wood in my stove?

Dear Don’t Move Firewood,
Is pallet wood okay to move?
Thank you, Karen

Here’s the quick answer; not a good thing to do. Not often illegal, truly, but still something that we suggest not doing.


  • Pallets are often stored outside for at least a few months, if not far longer. That means nearly anything can crawl onto them and lay eggs (for instance, spongy moth), or contaminated soil can stick or splash onto them (for instance, sudden oak death).
  • Pallets from other countries are now required to be heat treated, but some falsification of certificates and imperfectly applied treatment still occur. That means even new pallets could still contain pests within their wood.
  • Campgrounds will sometimes confiscate cut pallets and construction waste as part of their own facilities safety needs. So even if you bring it, you might not get to use it.
  • Older pallets are sometimes impregnated with toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. Particularly methyl bromide. You don’t want to burn that and then inhale it, or contaminate your wood stove. And if you don’t know how old your pallet is, you don’t know if those chemicals are in there.

So the final answer is that if you know your pallet is recently manufactured, it probably is fine to burn it on site or within a few miles of where you got it. But it is not a good idea to move pallets long distances for the purposes of burning them for firewood, nor is it a good idea to burn older pallets at all, given that they could release dangerous chemicals upon burning.

DMF teams up with Outsmart

Teaming Up with the Outsmart Invasive Species Project

By Julia Sullivan

The Northampton Tuesday Farmers’ Market on July 9th was our fourth farmers’ market of the summer, but the first one to have an Outsmart Invasive Species Project specialist join our booth! The Outsmart Project is a collaboration of individuals from UMass, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Nature Conservancy working to stop the spread of non-native plants and insects that threaten the health of our environment. The Project has developed an awesome smartphone application that allows users to report invasive plant and insect species quickly and easily. It includes identification training videos and lots of other helpful information.

This summer, the Outsmart Project is focusing on mapping the distribution of five plants: glossy buckthorn, Japanese knotweed, multiflora rose, autumn olive, and invasive honeysuckles. With such similar missions, Outsmart and Don’t Move Firewood made a great team. Our table was brimming with both insect and plant samples, and the combination allowed us to convey the gravity of invasive species as a whole. In one case, an avid herbalist was drawn to the table because of the plant samples. He had a lot to talk about with our Outsmart representative, and we were able to provide him with some important information about the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle. Who better to keep an eye out for these insects than someone who frequently traipses through the woods!

We had a great setup and spoke to swarms of people who were truly interested in what we had to say. There were kids constantly surrounding our prize wheel, begging to take more quizzes on the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle. We had some brave souls demand invasive insect tattoos on their cheeks, and we continued to surprise and impress people with our freebies. (I ran into someone rocking one of our Tree shirts yesterday at my brother’s soccer game! Turns out she’d won it on our prize wheel at the farmers’ market!) All in all, it was a great day.

If you have an iPhone or Android: Download the FREE Outsmart Invasive Species application through iTunes or Google Play, and you’ll be prepared to identify and report invasive species anytime. Check them out on Twitter @outsmartapp!


STOMPing in West Virginia

Guest blog by Cynthia Sandeno, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia


Visitors coming from out of state to camp in West Virginia will notice an important message during their travels. New billboards proclaiming the message “Don’t Move Firewood” have been established across the state in high-traffic locations to remind visitors to protect their favorite areas by buying firewood locally and using it locally.



In the fall of 2012, the Potomac Highlands Cooperative Weed and Pest Management Area (CWPMA) received funding to implement a large-scale project designed to inform travelers and citizen scientists about the steps they can take to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive pests.  The project, “Slowing the Onward Movement of Pests,” also called STOMP, combines a number of outreach techniques including highway billboards, educational displays at visitor centers in state parks, forests and other locations, public service announcements, and training workshops.  The CWPMA partnered with the “Don’t Move Firewood” Campaign to design posters, billboards, and postcards to help spread this important message.


The Potomac Highlands CWPMA is a partnership of people, agencies, and organizations who have come together to combat non-native invasive species in the headwaters region of the South Branch of the Potomac River in West Virginia and Virginia.  Working with the West Virginia Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the organization was assisted in their mission to spread the “Don’t Move Firewood” message by the use of advertising space donated by Lamar Advertising Company.  Lamar donated advertising space on four billboards in strategic locations to help increase travelers’ awareness that moving firewood can also move tree-killing insects and diseases.   This generous donation allowed the CWPMA to reach visitors from neighboring states reminding them not to move firewood.  “We would have never been able to reach as many people without the generous donation from Lamar,” said Andrea Brandon from TNC. “Many people travel into West Virginia along these roads and will be reminded that they can make a difference.”


West Virginia is home to the Monongahela National Forest (MNF) which is located in the east-central part of the state.  The Forest is the largest expanse of public land in the state, contains an estimated 52% of the publically available recreation land in West Virginia, and is the fourth largest National Forest in the 20 northeastern states.  The Forest is located in proximity to major population centers of the region, including Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh making travel routes to the Forest high-risk locations for the introduction and spread of invasive species.  The Monongahela is one of the founding partners of the CWPMA and has been leading the implementation of the STOMP project.


“Being able to work with the many partners of the CWPMA has led to much greater success than we would be able to accomplish on our own,” said Cynthia Sandeno, Ecologist on the Monongahela National Forest.  “Through the STOMP project, we are able to use private, state, and federal lands to help protect the health of West Virginia’s forests by increasing awareness,” said Cynthia.


The economy of West Virginia relies heavily on forest products, agriculture, and natural resource-based tourism; and is well known for its biological and cultural riches, recreational opportunities, and beauty.  Invasive pests are a threat to all of these resources.  The Asian longhorned beetle has not been found in West Virginia, but has been found just miles away in Bethel, Ohio making the travel routes between these two states high risk vectors for the spread of this species.   If the Asian longhorned beetle becomes established in West Virginia, it has the potential to cause more damage than Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight, and the spongy moth combined.  Lamar Advertising donated two billboards near the routes entering West Virginia from Bethel, Ohio.


In the coming months, the “Don’t Move Firewood” message will also be spread to state parks and forests where educational displays will be installed to help reach even more people, including those that live in the state.  “We want to make sure that residents and visitors know that even moving firewood between counties within West Virginia could introduce harmful pests,” said Andrea Brandon.   “By buying locally, campers can prevent unwanted pests from invading forests, fields, and waterways and causing environmental and economic damage.”


The first “Don’t Move Firewood” posters have been installed in campgrounds located at Nelson Rocks Outdoor Center, a climbing and zip lining facility that receives over 10,000 visitors annually.  And, nine additional educational displays will be installed in August of 2013 in nature centers at state parks and forests that have received campers from Bethel Ohio.  Without the help of the “Don’t Move Firewood” Campaign and the assistance of manager Leigh Greenwood, West Virginia would not have been able to develop these important outreach tools.

Four FAQs of the summer so far

What are people asking the DMF summer interns?

By Julia Sullivan


Four events into our summer, Annalena and I have been continually impressed with the great questions we’ve been receiving from festivalgoers and farmers’ market patrons. Our experience last week at the Lenox Farmers’ Market was no exception. Here’s a sampling of four such questions that keep popping up.


What’s the bug that’s killing hemlocks?


One pest that seems to be on a lot of people’s minds is the hemlock woolly adelgid. It was first reported in the 1920s and is currently distributed throughout the Eastern United States. Efforts to eradicate the hemlock woolly adelgid are currently under way via: biological control; lethal control using both chemical insecticides and, more recently, biocides; breeding resistant trees; managing the site to adapt to the loss of hemlocks. The fact that the insect continues to spread and hemlocks remain under threat, however, illustrates the great difficulty often encountered in responding to such invasions.


Is it okay to buy firewood at the grocery store?


Sometimes! This can be a really good option for some people, but only when it’s done right. If you see bundles of firewood at the supermarket from an unknown source, be wary. Do not buy firewood from an unpermitted or unknown vendor that cannot tell you where their wood comes from. Buying wood that is labeled as heat-treated or kiln dried (to kill any pests within), however, is typically safe. And buying wood that is clearly labeled as being from the local area, if you are planning to use it locally, is also usually fine.


Doesn’t the Asian longhorned beetle have predators that keep it in check?


In its native areas (China and Korea), yes! Here, not so much. Native trees have defenses against the insects and diseases that they've been living and evolving with for millions of years – not ones introduced from the other side of the world. Likewise, native predators eat native insects, and that keeps their populations in check. Invasive non-native insects and diseases have no effective predators in their new homes, and the trees have no natural defenses against them, allowing insects like the Asian longhorned beetle to reproduce rapidly and threaten the stability of the ecosystem. While native woodpeckers and other predators eat some Asian longhorned beetles, it is not nearly enough to keep their populations in check.


What are all those purple boxes?


The purple traps you might see suspended in trees are special boxes designed to attract the emerald ash borer. The triangular boxes release a scent similar to a sick ash tree, and the purple color is attractive to the beetle. They are intended to be monitoring devices that indicate the presence of beetles in a given area.


NOTE: We have special non-sticky ones to show people at our booth. DO NOT touch the real ones you may see in trees- they are covered in seriously sticky adhesive that is very difficult to remove.

First Farmer’s Market with the DMF interns

Quiet morning at the Ashfield Farmers Market

by Annalena Barrett


After Clearwater and Solid Sound, Julia and I could hardly believe our eyes when we rolled up to the Ashfield Farmers Market last Saturday. About six tents had been set up with a few more on their way. No one seemed rushed or stressed, just happy to be outside on a sunny morning.


People started milling around the market around 9:30am, taking their time and chatting with friends. It was so much more low-key than what we were used to, it honestly took some adjusting. Instead of shouting into throngs of humanity, we got to stand by our table as people meandered up to see what we were working on. It wasn’t long before a group of kids were kicking around one of our beach balls and sporting awesome invasive beetle tattoos.

For the most part, people seemed more interested in learning about our cause than picking up some freebees. This made for a very pleasant morning, and by the time the market wound down, it really felt like we have engaged in some challenging and worth while conversations.