BioBlitz in Great Barrington

Species Scavenger Hunt in Berkshire County, MA

by Ariel Kirk

 

Last weekend marked the fourth Berkshire BioBlitz located in Great Barrington, MA- and the first event for the summer intern season for Don't Move Firewood! This year’s BioBlitz was hosted by Collin Adkins, an AmeriCorps member serving in the Berkshire region.  Volunteers and nature enthusiasts came together to lead educational and eye-opening programs for the community.  Local organizations like Project Native, Berkshire Natural Resource Council (BRNC), Greenagers, and our own campaign for Don’t Move Firewood turned out to support the event.  The concept was simple, but still a large undertaking:   In a 24 hour span, identify as many species as possible by observing the wildlife and local biodiversity.  Many of the volunteers led nature walks to look and listen for birds or to identify trees, mushrooms, or whatever else caught their fancy.

 

Katie and I had a great time meeting new people and introducing them, in turn, to the message of Don’t Move Firewood and the importance of maintaining the health of our forests.  We’re both looking forward to an amazing summer working as the Don’t Move Firewood interns.

 

So who are we?

 

I (Ariel Kirk) am from Rochester, NY and have always liked the outdoors and exploring my surroundings.  I’m graduating this summer from SUNY Brockport with my MS in Environmental Science and Biology.  There’s a huge range of biodiversity in forest environments and that variety is what initially captured my interest about nature as a child.  This biodiversity is in jeopardy in part because of invasive pests.  I’m looking forward to spreading the information I’ve learned during my academic career and through this program to bring awareness to the public and how we can make a considerable difference in the health of our forests.

 

I (Katie Robb) recently graduated from Smith College in Northampton, MA with a B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy. I spent most of my childhood in New Hampshire on the seacoast, but have lived in Western Massachusetts for the past four years. During my final two semesters of college, I became increasingly interested in invasive species management. Working with Don’t Move Firewood aligns perfectly with my interest in addressing the protection of our native species in New England. I see this internship as a way to make meaningful contributions to my community and environmental movement, and hopefully will jumpstart my career in the conservation field.

 

Next weekend (June 21st and 22nd) we'll have our booth at the Clearwater Festival in New York! Stop by to say hello-  you might even get the chance to spin our prize wheel and win some fun gear.

 

Using ends of cut 2x4s?

Dear Don't Move Firewood,

I have a ton of 2 x 4 pieces to burn. Are those ok to bring to a campground?

Yours,

Avid Lumber User

 

Dear Avid Lumber User,

Someone must have put out "the Bat Signal" for 2 x 4s as firewood this week, because you are the fourth person to email me about this since Friday. So let's set the record straight on cut scrap 2 x 4 ends!

 

From a practical perspective, commercially kiln dried clean scraps of lumber (also called dimensional lumber) are a pretty safe alternative to traditional cut firewood. Because they are bark-free, and are usually stored indoors, this is a very low risk wood choice.

 

However, from several other perspectives, they become a problem. Here's a quick breakdown of the issues:

  • Some campsites ban what they consider "construction scraps" to protect the safety of their maintenance workers. Even if YOUR 2×4 scraps don't have sharp nails and brackets and screws in them, they might be banned anyways.
  • Scrap wood stored outside can absolutely still have hitchhitching forest pests on or in it. For instance, gypsy moths will readily lay eggs on wood scraps.
  • Wood scraps can fall into a grey area in terms of the legality of moving firewood across certain borders. You don't want to think something is legal, only to find out that you could be subject to fines for moving just a bit of scrap wood.
  • Treated wood is highly toxic when burned. Make sure to keep any treated wood separated from the clean 2x4s pile to avoid accidentally burning hazardous chemicals like arsenic.

 

So what's our formal opinion on 2 x 4 scrap lumber bits for firewood? Its fine for home use, backyard use, and local campgrounds when permitted. But because it brings up a lot of questions when moved farther or across borders, it'd be best to restrict using 2x4s to your nearby campgrounds, and call ahead.

 

For information on a related topic, burning pallets, see our 2013 blog "What about burning pallets?"

What about rot and insect resistant wood?

Dear Don't Move Firewood,

Some wood is resistant to bugs, such as eucalyptus.  Is it banned from Utah forests?

Yours,

Inquisitive Firewood User

 

Dear Inquisitive Firewood User,

You've got a good two part question here- is a wood like eucalyptus (which is rot and insect resistant) safe to move, and also what are the regulations in Utah. Let's do them in reverse order.

 

At this time, Utah does not explicitly ban all firewood from out of state, so it would be legal to bring wood from some nearby states in most cases. Essentially, as long as the wood isn't under quarantine (such as hardwood from an emerald ash borer infested area, or wood stored on the ground in an imported fire ant infested area), you could bring it to Utah. You can look up a quick summary of Utah's recommendations on our map. Now, just because it is a legal action doesn't mean we recommend moving firewood into Utah forests from out of state, so please remember the rule of thumb is still not to move it over 50 miles from wood source to campfire location.

 

Separately, an important thing to take into account is that some forest pests – such as the very damaging European gypsy moth– don’t live inside the wood itself, but instead they lay eggs on the wood after it has been cut. So even resistant woods like eucalyptus can pose a hazard in those situations. Further, if you live in an area under quarantine for Imported Fire Ant, they can infest any firewood that is stored right on the ground and it is illegal to move firewood from those areas.

 

Good luck, and thanks for asking!

 

Links to learn more: