Every year, we gather all the information we can find on state-based firewood regulations and outreach and combine it into one giant spreadsheet. We're seeking final fact checking and edits on the 2013 version now! Please download the current draft here and then submit any corrections to LGreenwood@tnc.org as soon as you can! Final version will be released at the end of September. Thanks!
Did you know that August has been the first ever Tree Check Month? Yup- organized by the great folks over at USDA APHIS, Tree Check Month is an effort to get everyone to take ten minutes to look at their backyard trees, and look for pests or damage on those trees.
Want to participate? Here’s a short list of resources if you want to check your trees for Asian longhorned beetle or other tree pests:
- Tree Check Month poster by USDA APHIS
- How to identify the Asian longhorned beetle quick video from Outsmart Invasives
- How to Save Countless Trees in 10 Minutes or less blog post from The Nature Conservancy
- Asian longhorned beetle general website by USDA APHIS
- Tree Check Month press release by USDA APHIS
This weekend you should take a moment to go outside, take a look at your trees, and if you see any signs that they might be infested with Asian longhorned beetles, report it here!
Did you know our awesome Asian longhorned beetle costume is on tour? That's right, every year we lend our costume out to at least a dozen (often more) non-profits and state agencies when we don't need it. The costume lending season is from Labor Day through Memorial Day- essentially, the school year. Our costumes go to baseball games, parades, state fairs, TEDx talks, Landscaper conventions… you name it.
Here's how it works
- You email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Include the event dates, event name, the anticipated attendance, and where we can send you a rather large box
- You commit to sending it back to us, or to the next user, on your budget and PROMPTLY
- We send you a confirmation if it will be available, and then… you get to borrow it!
- You send us at least two or three high quality photos of you using the costume at your event
In September and October our ALB costume is going to events in Vermont, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Massachusetts. We are now booking for the weekend of October 19th and onwards. Send us a note if you want to borrow it!
Please note that right now we do not have an Emerald ash borer costume. We are working to remedy that problem ASAP. Thanks for your understanding!
Don't Move Firewood rocks the Heath Fair
by Annalena Barrett
Last weekend Julia and I found ourselves frolicking around the fairgrounds of Heath, Massachusetts in our wondrous Asian Longhorned Beetle costume. The Heath Fair was a true country fair with contests for the best summer squash and most weight pulled by a lawn mower. This was very different from the music festivals and farmers markets we have gotten used to, and it actually ended up being one of my favorite events of the summer. This had a little to do with the fact that our booth was stationed next to the mini doughnut stand, and a lot to do with the conversations we had throughout the course of the weekend.
There is a sweet spot in outreach in which we have new information to present to someone, and they are willing to listen and engage. Although speaking with someone who used to work for the Department of Conservation and Recreation who is an expert on invasives is a great interaction, that person probably already knows not to move firewood. At some events we experience the opposite, where people don’t know about the issue, but also do not care to learn about it.
It also helped that the Heath Fair had a lot of people in a really good mood, like this police officer.
At the Heath Fair it seemed like there were a lot of people who did not know much about Don’t Move Firewood, but were excited to learn. Many of the people we spoke to spent a lot of time in the woods either for livelihood or for recreation, but it was clear that this demographic was concerned about saving their trees, which was great starting point for our conversations.
Field Trip to Worcester MA
By Annalena Barrett
Worcester Massachusetts is now in its fifth year of fighting the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) and so far, they’ve cut down about thirty thousand trees. One illustration of how the eradication efforts have been paying off in how many beetles are bring found. Last year, thirteen beetles were found, but only one has surfaced in 2013, at least so far. Recently, I had the privilege of taking a fieldtrip to Worcester with some representatives of the Department of Conservation and Recreation to see the work happening on the Asian longhorned beetle.
(address removed from picture via digital editing)
We arrived just a few days after that one beetle I just mentioned had been found and were actually able to get up close and personal with a living Asian longhorned beetle. In general, I like bugs and did not expect to be unsettled by this encounter, but let me tell you, this beetle was huge and creepy enough to make my hair stand on end.
After this exciting but unpleasant encounter, we headed off clad in hardhats to see some tree removal. Everyone took turns using binoculars to try and spot the ALB damage signs in the upper branches of the trees, not the easiest task to be sure. From there, we got to see some tree surveyors in action a few blocks away. One person was upside-down in the tree looking at every inch of every branch, while another showed us what equipment, knots, and movements were needed to get into a tree and survey it.
The rest of the day was spent walking through all the essential steps of the eradication program from the lot where the city’s trees were brought to be chipped and rechipped to ensure it was no longer inhabitable by the ALB, all the way to the reforestation efforts. It was tremendous to see how hard people are working to get Worcester looking leafy and green again.
LEAF at Third Thursday in Pittsfield MA
by Annalena Barrett
Third Thursday is a monthly street festival that takes place in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. We picked a swelteringly hot day to attend, but luckily we had three fabulous LEAF interns and their mentor with us to keep the booth lively.
What is a LEAF intern you ask? They are high school students participating in Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF), a paid four-week internship program created by The Nature Conservancy.
The three girls we got to work with had just come back from a two-week stint in Martha’s Vineyard and would spend their last two weeks in Sheffield, Massachusetts getting to explore the Berkshires while working on various conservation projects. All three attend an environmental charter school in Boston, and reported that the past two weeks had been a pretty extreme change of pace from their usual urban setting.
LEAF aims to reach out to populations that have become underrepresented in the conservation movement so that future generations will be stronger and more diverse. It was heartening to see juniors and seniors in high school already doing meaningful conservation work and leaping at the opportunity to sport and Asian Longhorned Beetle costume despite the ninety-degree weather. To learn more about the LEAF internship, click here.
The LEAF mentor, Ariana Kosmides, sent us this happy update from after the event! "Cashe, Carenne and Aliyah loved handing out fans to help everyone combat the heat and giving Asian longhorn beetle tattoos to kids at the fair. It was a great opportunity for them to utilize their public speaking skills and peoples skills. Teaching others and answering questions about invasive beetles helped increase their knowledge and understanding of invasive species and the impact it has on our habitat." Thanks Ariana!
Our advice column is in high demand! Wow! Keep it coming.
Dear Don't Move Firewood,
We are going camping twice in the next few weeks and would like to know if we can take our own firewood. We live in (northwestern) PA and will be going to (west central) NY and then also to (west central) PA. Could you tell us if we can transport our own wood, and in general, if and where can we ever transport wood? Thank you.
You've got three questions here, so let's do them each one at a time.
1. Can you move firewood from your town in PA to your camping destination in NY?
Nope, that'd be illegal. New York prohibits the movement of untreated firewood from out of state, and also prohibits movement over 50 miles (your distance is more than that). You'll need to purchase wood near your NY camping area. Here's the pertinent link on that one; http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/44008.html
2. Can you move firewood from your town in PA to where you want to camp in PA?
Your proposed trip is farther than 50 miles away, and the state agencies of PA strongly discourage moving firewood that far. From a strictly legal perspective, because you are not in a federally quarantined county, it is permissable. But it is not a great idea. Read more here: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/thingstoknow/firewoodadvisory/
3. In general, where can you ever transport wood?
This is a great question. If you are moving firewood a short distance (under 10 miles), and you are not in a quarantined area, and you are not crossing any major boundaries of states or counties, that's pretty much considered fine to do. For instance, if I cut up a tree in my backyard because it was too close to the house and I was worried it'd blow over in a storm, and I wanted to take it across town to my uncles place (let's say its a 20 minute drive) because he has a wood burning stove, that's fine. Now- take note. If I was cutting that same tree down because it was killed by some unknown bug, and it was riddled with holes and woodpecker damage, I would NOT take it to my uncle's house, because I might spread whatever was in my tree to his property. Instead, I'd burn it in my backyard fire pit whenever I wanted to roast some hot dogs.
Hope that helps!
Dear Don't Move Firewood,
I have broken pieces of 1×12 spruce that is kiln dried. It is used for building shelves, etc. It is not pressure treated, stained or painted. Can I bring it from Canada to the USA to burn as firewood?
Dear Firewood User,
Your question initially had me stumped, because the regulations for border crossing depend on your direction of crossing, and also what type of wood you are bringing over the border. So let's review: you are going from Canada to the USA, so we need to know the US Customs and Border Protection regulation. And spruce is a "softwood" species (like pine).
Here's your answer; it can be brought from Canada to the US if it is clearly labeled as per this excerpt from the US Customs and Border Protection Firewood FAQ
Softwood (such as spruce, pine, fir, etc.) firewood (non-commercial) must be accompanied by a treatment certificate or attached commercial treatment label declaring that the firewood was heat treated at 56 C (minimal core temperature) for 30 minutes and an inspection free from pest.
There! So, if your 1×12 spruce has heat treatment stamps, or stapled on labels that indicate that it is kiln dried (both are possible) then you should probably be OK. But if your wood is entirely unlabeled, you stand a fair chance of having it confiscated at the border, which would be a waste of wood and you might be subject to fines. Now, I sort of doubt that your scrap wood is labeled, so even though kiln dried clean scrap that was stored inside is pretty darn safe firewood, you are still subject to the regulation as written… so it might be best to just use it on site and not try to bring it over the border.
Good luck, and I hope you enjoy your trip!
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.
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!
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
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