What is a firewood quarantine?

When most people hear the word “Quarantine,” they think of isolating a person that’s sick with some dangerous, contagious disease. When we talk about a forest pest related quarantine, the underlying concept is the same– it is just that instead of not letting people move around, we’re often talking about not moving firewood around.


Quarantines that relate to forest pests can work two basic ways- (1) preventing potentially infested materials, like firewood, from moving out of an known infested area, or (2) preventatively designating areas where no potentially infested materials could be brought in at all. The official term for potentially contagious or infested materials (things like firewood, nursery trees, brush waste) is “regulated items,” and each forest pest has a different list of appropriate regulated items, according to how its specific life cycle works.


(1) Much like a human quarantine for a contagious illness keeps the infected person from exposing new groups of people to whatever they’ve got, the first kind of a forest pest quarantine keeps people from moving regulated items out of infested places and into uninfested locations where they could infest new groups of trees- like uninfested campgrounds, forests, or neighborhoods. In some cases, more than just firewood can spread forest pests, so a quarantine might include not just firewood, but also other regulated items like nursery trees (like emerald ash borer), or outdoor furniture (like spongy moth), or even outdoor potted plants (like imported fire ant.) One important caveat about quarantined areas is that while it might be technically legal to move materials from one side of a county or state to the other side, that action might still be spreading unwanted pests- so it is still not a good idea. Further, when it comes to forest pest quarantines, often the federal and state rules are different- and the more “strict” rules always apply first. For instance, even though both Western Massachusetts and the bottom half of New York are part of the large multistate quarantined region for emerald ash borer, due to New York State laws, it is still illegal for campers to bring untreated firewood from Western Massachusetts into New York State for their campfire.


(2) The second kind of quarantine is a more preventative measure, and it is called an External Quarantine. Instead of trying to keep current infestations in a confined area, an external quarantine is trying to preserve the health of the forests by blocking out any infested materials coming from elsewhere. For instance, Maine has an external quarantine that prohibits bringing any untreated firewood into the state of Maine, to protect their state’s very important timber resources from all possible forest pest threats.


For more information on the status of various forest pest quarantines in your area, please look up your state or province on our map.

Harness the Power of Birdwatchers!

Did you know that 20% of US residents identify themselves as a birdwatcher, bird lover, or birder? That’s a LOT of binocular wielding citizen scientists! Does that include… YOU?

Here at Don’t Move Firewood, we’d like to invite all the birdwatchers that participate in the Christmas Bird Count, Great Backyard Bird Count, or just everyday birding adventures, to take a few moments to inspect the trees that their birds depend on for signs of forest pests. The easiest thing to do is to look around for holes in trees- and we’ve made a special handout called the Birdwatcher’s Guide to Holes in Trees for just that purpose. Download the handout, read through it, and familiarize yourself with the three basic types of holes in trees- holes made by typical bird foraging, holes made by birds foraging on invasive insects, and holes made by the invasive insects themselves.

BUT WAIT! Are you a forest health professional?  Multiply your impact by reaching out to your local Audubon Society (or other birdwatching group) representative to get Holes in Trees handouts to each birder that they know! You can either choose to print out physical copies and provide them, or just email the PDF to various birding listservers. You are responsible for contacting and educating your local bird groups- and remember, they are usually volunteers, so please be respectful of their time and desire to help (or a lack thereof!).

Good luck, and keep an eye out for Holes In Trees!


Photo of emerald ash borer exit hole and woodpecker foraging hole, credit D. Cappaert

California’s 2014 Roadside Signs for Goldspotted Oak Borer

Guest blog by Kevin Turner, Goldspotted Oak Borer Program Coordinator, University of California Riverside


In the spring of 2014, the California Firewood Task Force was able to offer “year-end funds” to the Goldspotted Oak Borer (GSOB) Outreach Committee for a much awaited roadside sign project in Southern California.  Our multi-agency committee had conceived of the idea of using roadside signs to warn the populace about the danger of moving GSOB-infested firewood, particularly in light of the fact that there was no prospect of an oak firewood quarantine being established.   A big surge in GSOB-caused mortality in San Diego County combined with the first discovery of GSOB in Riverside County increased the urgency of getting signs installed.


goldspotted oak borer sign

Sign at Highway 74 in route to Idyllwild – San Bernardino National Forest, California


With funding in hand, we set about coming up with a plan for determining sign design, placement locations, permitting requirements, procurement process, and sign installation. The Don’t Move Firewood campaign is well branded in California and nationally, so the committee felt that continuing the branding made sense. The Nature Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood campaign shared samples of sign designs being used in other states and offered the services of their graphic designer to help us with our customized design- at no charge!  As you can see, our design highlights GSOB and features a white background to minimize fading in the strong California sun.


For sign locations, Cuyamaca State Park offered to place one sign on Highway 79 in the heart of GSOB country, and another at Mount Palomar, an area immediately at risk to GSOB.  The Descanso Ranger District of the Cleveland National Forest identified three high-use recreation facilities where the signs would be effective.  The City of San Diego Parks Department placed a sign at their Mission Trails facility which in July identified its first GSOB tree.  CAL FIRE in San Diego is installing a 4’x8’ sign on one of their existing fire prevention sign locations.  Finally, the Riverside County Mountain Area Safety Task Force utilized and existing San Bernardino National Forest sign location on Highway 74 between the city of Hemet and Idyllwild.  Each agency that received a sign was responsible for pursuing whatever permitting or permission process was required.


goldspotted oak borer roadside sign

Sign at Sunrise Highway in the Cleveland National Forest, California


A number of CAL FIRE Conservation camps produce “camp products” which include producing signs.  We selected Norco Camp in Riverside County for this project because it was local and had the ability to utilize computer graphics for producing signs in custom sizes.  Norco also built nice redwood sign frames for some sign locations without existing frames. When the signs were completed, CAL FIRE Riverside Unit/Riverside County Fire Department offered the use of their hook-lift truck and a driver to deliver the signs to various locations.


Things to consider if you are planning a future roadside sign project:


  • Using a custom design produced by the Don't Move Firewood campaign allows your project to immediately be part of a well recognized national campaign- and the designs are done at no cost to your project.
  • Signs placed at turnouts, vista points, entry kiosks etc. can contain more detailed information than signs on high-speed sections of roadway where vehicle occupants have a few seconds to view.
  • Try to place signs on sections of roadway where drivers are not having to cope with merging, passing, high-speed cornering or other functions of driving that require their full attention.
  • Signs at locations where people pull over, stop, or have to drive at a slower rate of speed offer the best opportunity for observation.
  • Signs made of decals placed onto aluminum metal backings allow for changing the message or graphics periodically.  However, signs produced with other materials and technologies may have an appeal.
  • Check with the local regulatory agency to insure you are complying with signage laws.
  • Sign designs can utilize frames on which signs are mounted or frameless (signs attach directly to posts with no frame.
  • Consider rotating the signs with other messages; people become oblivious if they travel the same section of road, but a change catches their eye.
  • Produce the largest size possible on existing sign boards.
  • If using an existing sign frame, make sure to check out its condition and take appropriate replacement parts for worn components.


Many thanks to the agencies, groups and individuals that contributed to making this a successful team effort!



For questions regarding this project, please contact Kevin Turner, Goldspotted Oak Borer Program Coordinator, University of California Riverside

Firewood Outreach Coordinating Initiative Survey

The Firewood Outreach Coordinating Initiative (FOCI) serves as a venue for individuals actively engaged in firewood outreach, allowing the frequent sharing of activities, ideas, and information throughout North America. One of the many participants in the FOCI is the manager of Don’t Move Firewood (yours truly)- but it is important to note that Don’t Move Firewood’s campaign is one of many different facets of the FOCI- not the only one! As the end of the second consecutive year of FOCI newsletters approached, staff of The Nature Conservancy created and disseminated an online 10 question survey to determine how well the FOCI newsletter was achieving its goal, and to best inform FOCI efforts for the future.


So what did we find? Of the 421 subscribers to the FOCI Newsletter in October 2014, 89 subscribers clicked on the link to the online survey and 65 completed filling out the online survey within 11 days. It is not possible (due to the otherwise anonymous survey) to determine which 65 of the 89 individuals that clicked on the survey link actually completed the survey, but the initial group of 89 contains emails associated with dozens of state agencies, at least four federal agencies, several private industry groups, multiple public school districts, University extension offices, a variety of well known non-profits, and many ‘generic’ email domains (such as @gmail, @centurylink, etc).  Survey respondents rated the FOCI as averaging 7.3 out of 10 for when asked to rate its usefulness in their professional setting, and an average of B+ (3.3 of 4.0) on an academic style grade scale when asked how it is performing as a “venue for individuals actively engaged in firewood outreach, allowing the frequent sharing of activities, ideas, and information.” Survey respondents generally suggested no changes to the current numbers of stories, news articles, the frequency of the newsletter, and the general amount of newsletter coverage dedicated to major pests such as Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer, and European spongy moth. A notable portion of survey respondents indicated they wanted more coverage of less well discussed pests such as the Asian spongy moth, goldspotted oak borer, and sudden oak death. Survey respondents generally indicated they were satisfied with how the newsletter discusses programmatic content, with the exception that a very marked (72%) number of respondents would like to see more pest outbreak announcements. The final three write-in questions contained a wide variety of positive feedback along with constructive criticism and ideas.


Where do we go from here? The survey showed that nearly everything that the FOCI newsletter currently does is helpful to the community of professionals that it serves- but it could do more. The one area of improvement that the FOCI survey highlighted was the need to have a greater exchange of ideas- such as more guest articles on the newsletter, or perhaps a more interactive webinar series. Both of these ideas are currently being examined for the 2015 season of the FOCI as a result of this feedback.


For a full report, Executive Summary, and all results of the 2014 FOCI survey, please download the FOCI Newsletter Survey Results off the Don’t Move Firewood Resource Library.


Wondering where your sticker is? We are contacting everyone that took the survey to get a mailing address. THANK YOU for your patience- please check your email and/or spam folder between  November 12th and November 20th for a note from us asking for where to send your sticker!