Publications on firewood movement and human behavior

The issue of forest pests being moved on contaminated firewood is inherently not due to the firewood itself- but instead it is a product of people’s needs, wants, opinions, choices, beliefs, and access to relevant information. With that in mind, here at Don’t Move Firewood we thought it’d be good to summarize the papers, documentation, and research projects that have focused intentionally on the people aspect- an informal literature review of the social science of why people move firewood.

Canadian Council on Invasive Species, 2018 National Invasive Species Recreational Pathways Survey and Report, March 2018 Report, accessed May 2019 on, pdf version:

Daigle, J.J., C.L. Straub, J.E. Leahy, S.M. De Urioste-Stone, D.J. Ranco, and N.W. Siegert. 2018. How campers’ beliefs about forest pests affect firewood transport behavior: an application of involvement theory. Forest Science.

Diss-Torrance, A.; Peterson, K; Robinson, C. 2018 Reducing Firewood Movement by the Public: Use of Survey Data to Assess and Improve Efficacy of a Regulatory and Educational Program, 2006–2015, Forests 2018, 9(2), 90;

Jentsch, P; Bauch, C; Yemshanov, D; Anand, M; 2020 Go big or go home: A model-based assessment of general strategies to slow the spread of forest pests via infested firewood. PLoS ONE 15(9)

Koch, F.; Yemshanov, D.; Magarey, R.; Smith, W. 2012 Dispersal of Invasive Forest Insects via Recreational Firewood: A Quantitative Analysis. J. Econ. Entomol. 105(2):438-450.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture 2005 and 2008, Public Awareness and Behavior Survey Reports. MN 2005 North Shore State Parks Visitors Report, MN 2008 North Shore State Parks Visitors Report

Peterson, K.; Diss-Torrance, A. 2014 Motivations for rule compliance in support of forest health: Replication and extension. J. Environ. Manag. 2014, 139, 135–145.,  PetersonMotivationsForComplianceReplication

Peterson, K.; Diss-Torrance, A. 2012 Motivation for compliance with environmental regulations related to forest health. J. Environ. Manag. 2012, 112, 104–119.

Peterson, K.; Nelson, E. 2008 Firewood Use in Wisconsin State Parks and Forests: 2006 and 2008 (Wisconsin) Bureau of Science Services. PetersonFirewoodWisconsin20062008

Robertson, D.; Andow, D. (Working Paper, 2009). Human-mediated dispersal of emerald ash borer: Significance of the firewood pathway.…pdf

Runberg, D. 2011. Educating Pacific Northwest Campers on the Risk of Spreading Invasive Forest Pests through Firewood: Developing a Mental Model. Master of Public Policy Essay, Oregon State University.  PNWCamperStudy_RunbergMPP2011

Siegert, P.Y., B. Nowell, M. Michaelis, N. McShinsky and N.W. Siegert. 2015. The invasive species Cannonball Run: A case study of firewood movement to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. P. 91–92 in Proc. of the 2014 emerald ash borer research and technology meeting, Buck, J., G. Parra, D. Lance, R. Reardon, and D. Binion (eds.). USDA Forest Health Technology Expertise Team (FHTET-2015-07), Morgantown, WV. SiegertInvasiveSppCannonballRunAbstract

Tobin, P.C.; Diss-Torrance, A.; Blackburn, L.M.; Brown, B.D. 2010 What Does “Local” Firewood Buy You? Managing the Risk of Invasive Species Introduction. J. Econ. Entomol. 2010, 103, 1569–1576.,

United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 2010. Risk Assessment of the Movement of Firewood Publication of the Plant Epidemiology and Risk Analysis Laboratory, Center for Plant Health Science and Technology, Plant Protection and Quarantine, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Risk Assessment of the Movement of Firewood.pdf

Spring yard cleaning tips

Spring yard cleaning season is well under way, and here at Don’t Move Firewood we’d like to share some pointers on how you can best dispose of your yard waste to minimize the spread of invasive species. It is important to realize that all types of yard waste- including tree branches, brush, leaves, and clippings- can potentially harbor invasive insects and diseases. Therefore, if you dispose of yard waste (sometimes also called “green waste”) incorrectly, you could unintentionally start a new pest infestation.

For smaller yard debris from your own yard, such as leafy thin branches, evergreen needles and cones, green clippings, or brushy materials, it is best to either let it break down naturally on site (whether through backyard composting, or just a standard brush pile) or through municipal composting (if available). In some areas under quarantine for emerald ash borer or Asian longhorned beetle, there are specific wood disposal areas called “marshalling yards” for safely disposing of quarantined woody waste items. It is NOT advisable to use your leafy material for fill on other properties, and of course it is never a good idea to dump it or otherwise dispose of it illegally.

For woody materials, such as tree trunks or medium-to-larger branches from your own property, these can either be chipped on site for mulch, bucked and split into firewood for use on site, or brought to a municipal composting facility (if available).

Because pest infestations can take years to be recognized by the authorities, let alone homeowners, it is critical to remember that even trees and shrubs that appear healthy could be harboring harmful organisms. Even well seasoned firewood should be used locally- preferably on site- and not taken long distances for camping.

Many states have regulations or quarantines relating to the movement of firewood- which can include things like cut logs and branches. For a complete map of firewood regulations, visit our Firewood Regulation and Recommendation Map.

Here are some tips for what to do with fallen branches or tree trunks on your property:

  • Make it into firewood and use it in your own fireplace, wood stove, BBQ, or outdoors fire pit! Logs and cut branches should be split and dried in a covered stack for at least six months (and preferably longer) to “season” it. Properly dried “seasoned” firewood burns hotter and creates less air pollution.
  • If you don’t want to keep this firewood on site, don’t be tempted to take it with you when camping this spring or summer. Instead, you can give it to your next-door neighbor for their home heating use, or burn or chip it on site, or dispose of it at a municipal composting facility or a quarantined area marshalling yard.
  • Hire a tree service or rent a tree chipper to shred your fallen trees and branches on site into mulch to use in your own garden beds and landscaping projects.
  • If a yard waste recycling or municipal composting program is not available- and you cannot leave the materials on site to break down naturally nor do you want to make it into firewood- your brush, logs, and branches should be disposed of in a local landfill.

WEBINAR: How campers’ beliefs affect firewood transport, March 19

Join us for a FOCI webinar, How campers’ beliefs affect firewood transport, on Tuesday March 19th 2019 at 2pm Eastern (11am Pacific, Noon Mountain, 1pm Central). This webinar will share results of an on-site survey of campers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont and how their beliefs about forest pests affected firewood transport.  A joint presentation will be given by John Daigle, Professor in the School of Forest Resources, University of Maine, Orono, Maine; Crista Straub, Social Scientist with the Social & Economic Analysis Branch, US Geological Service, Fort Collins, Colorado; and Nate Siegert, Forest Entomologist, US Forest Service, Northeastern Area State & Private Forestry, Forest Health Protection, Durham, New Hampshire. The format of the webinar will be approximately 40 minutes of presentations, and 20 minutes of open discussion on assessing the effectiveness of outreach and education efforts and links to current research and management of invasive species.

WEBINAR: National Plant Board Firewood Working Group Overview, on February 6

Join us for a FOCI webinar, National Plant Board Firewood Working Group Overview, on Wednesday February 6th 2019 at 2pm Eastern (11am Pacific, Noon Mountain, 1pm Central). This webinar will be an overview of the firewood working group of the National Plant Board and will discuss three specific focus areas; State Regulations, Firewood Production Best Management Practices, and Outreach and Education. The overview will be led by Ann Gibbs, National Plant Board President with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, along with Piera Siegert, Vice President of the Eastern Plant Board with the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food. The format of the webinar will be approximately 30 minutes of presentations, and 30 minutes of open discussion.  


Webinar: Don’t Move Firewood Campaign- Present and Planned, on January 29

Join us for a FOCI webinar, Don’t Move Firewood Campaign- Present and Planned, on Tuesday January 29th 2019 at 1pm Eastern (10am Pacific, 11 Mountain, Noon Central). The Don’t Move Firewood campaign organizes, creates, and assists with outreach activities over a tremendous scope of partners throughout the year. During this webinar, the manager of Don’t Move Firewood, Leigh Greenwood, will outline the activities that fall under the broad categories of; established past programs that are now in a “maintenance” mode, currently running programs that are actively being managed, and planned programs for 2019 and beyond. This webinar will have a particular focus on firewood outreach that professionals in the field of forest health management or communications can use to inform their own future actions and directions.

  • The presentation on January 29th was accidentally not properly recorded. We’ll be doing a re-presentation in February and will post it at that time.
  • The webinar’s powerpoint slides are available here: DMF2019_presentplanned


New science on why people make the choice to move firewood

Guest blog by David Coyle, Assistant Professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, Clemson University

Most insects (and fungi) don’t really move that far on their own. The emerald ash borer, widely considered the worst invasive forest insect of our generation, flies at most a few miles a year. So if that’s the case, then how did it get from Detroit to Texas (or Maine, or Manitoba, or Georgia, or North Carolina, or…) in less than two decades? I’ll tell you how – it got accidentally moved around by people, most likely in infested wood products. And what’s one of the most commonly moved wood products that people like to move around? Firewood.

Maybe it’s for a relaxing weekend camping at a park (“I’m gonna sit by the fire and enjoy doing nothing”), maybe it’s for a gathering at a relative’s house (“Let’s have a bonfire!”), or maybe it’s for cold fall nights out deer hunting- whatever the reason, firewood gets moved around all the time. When it is only short distances, that’s not a big problem- but unfortunately, the transportation of firewood is one of the main ways invasive pests get moved longer distances, like to new states or regions far away from their original infestation.

Now you may be asking yourself – why do people move firewood considering all the information about the risk of moving forest insects? What’s the precise reason people choose to move firewood? Do they not know it’s bad? Or do they not care? Or is it something else?

Recently, researchers from the University of Maine, Unity College, and the USDA Forest Service interviewed campers (272, to be exact) at campgrounds in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, all with the goal of figuring out the answer to these questions. You can read the whole study at (, but for a quick summary, keep reading!

First, the good news: most people (92%!) did know about invasive forest pests (though they couldn’t always name one) and the majority (72% of campers) did not bring firewood from home. The bad news is that we now know 28% of people are bringing firewood from home. The big reasons why people brought their own wood probably won’t surprise you –they already had it available at home, and bringing it is cheaper than buying it.

The study also found out that the less people cared about (or were “involved with”) invasive forest pests, the less they thought invasive forest pests were a problem. This makes perfect sense. Think of something you care deeply about – you probably think it’s important, right? We are all more motivated to protect the things we care about and understand, than the things that don’t seem important, or that we simply are not aware of.

This important research shows us that we still have work to do in the world of forest pest, firewood, and social science research. We need to figure out new, exciting ways to convey to people how bad invasive species can be, and how their actions make a difference. Maybe we need to show more images of large-scale devastation from insect outbreaks? Maybe it’s personal stories of financial loss – or the loss of a beautiful tree in someone’s yard? Whatever it is, reaching those folks who don’t yet care or understand will be critical to protecting our trees and forests.

Like me, you may have heard misconceptions about the importance of not moving firewood before, “Who cares? It won’t matter. We’ll burn it all up anyway. There’s no way anything is still living in there. There weren’t any bugs in it to start with. I’m only one person, how much can that really matter?”

As a community of outreach professionals, we need to communicate that yes- your firewood does matter, and one person can make a difference. Every camping trip, hunting trip, or visit to Grandma’s house is another opportunity to do the right thing.

Daigle, J.J., C.L. Straub, J.E. Leahy, S.M. De Urioste-Stone, D.J. Ranco, and N.W. Siegert. 201x. How campers’ beliefs about forest pests affect firewood transport behavior: an application of involvement theory. Forest Science XX: 1-10.

Photo credit: L. Greenwood, The Nature Conservancy

Webinar: Regulations that apply to moving firewood right now

Join us for a FOCI webinar, Regulations that apply to moving firewood right now, on January 30th 2019 at 4pm Eastern, 3 Central, 2pm Mountain, and 1pm Pacific.

The regulations that apply to firewood are often not entirely about the firewood itself, which makes it hard to fully categorize and understand the tangled web of rules and quarantines in North America. During this webinar, the manager of Don’t Move Firewood, Leigh Greenwood, will describe all the different ways in which current regulations criss-cross to create a confusing, and fascinating, regulatory landscape. Back by popular demand from the webinar of the same name held in January 2018, we’ll do our best to accurately represent the scope of a whole continent’s rules and regulations in merely one hour.

  • The 2019 recorded presentation is available here:
  • The 2019 powerpoint slides are here: FOCIRegulationsRightNow2019 
  • View the 2018 recorded presentation on our YouTube Channel here: Special note: the 2018 webinar recording briefly shows a blank screen at about 8 minutes and 18 minutes in. Just sit tight, it resolves itself when the webinar clicks over to the next slide. Sorry about that! Not sure what happened.


Published comments on the emerald ash borer deregulation proposal


This fall’s recent open comment period on the proposal to lift the federal quarantine on emerald ash borer brought in well over 140 comments, many of them from national, regional, or statewide groups. In order to facilitate finding and reading the comments that are most pertinent to our partners’ needs and interests, the staff at Don’t Move Firewood have created a linked list of comments sorted into broad groups. Please note this is NOT all the comments, and errors and omissions in this listing may exist. For the full and definitive list of all public comments, please visit directly.

National or Large Regional Scope Groups:

State or Tribal Governments and Agencies:

National Private Industry Groups:

Other Groups:

Firewood – it’s not as dead as you think

Guest blog by David Coyle, Assistant Professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, Clemson University

Firewood.  For some, collecting, splitting, and stacking firewood may be considered a right of passage.  I mean, when I was growing up, I helped my father replenish the woodpile every year – it was one of those things that was a given, like the changing of the seasons.  It’s often free, so long as you collect it yourself, and this makes it a very attractive heat source for many people.  In most cases, people will cut firewood from trees that have already died or been damaged – this way, the wood has already started curing, and can be burned sooner.  Storms can provide lots of firewood material, and I remember cutting up storm-damaged trees as a kid.

That said, firewood has become a lightning rod of a topic in the last few years and has been implicated in the movement of several invasive species throughout North America.  But how long CAN insects live in firewood, really?  I’ve heard people say the likelihood of pests moving in firewood is overblown, yet there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that invasive species have been spread through firewood.  As a scientist and educator with degrees in entomology, I can tell you that several types of insects that live in wood have life cycles that are perfectly suited to making a life in a piece of firewood, yet up until recently, we didn’t have a lot of really sound science to support these notions (even though having cut and split more firewood in my lifetime than I can remember, I can tell you that many insects can live in a log).  But thanks to Dr. Kevin Dodds, a forest entomologist with the USDA Forest Service in Durham, NH, we now have hard data AND evidence that firewood can be a major pathway in which insects are moved.

Larvae found in backyard firewood, Credit: D. Coyle, Clemson University

Dr. Dodds and his team collected firewood in the same manner in which any homeowner would from a forest after a major windstorm blew through and created all sorts of injured/broken/blown down trees – perfect trees for firewood.  They collected logs one, two, and three years after the storm, took those logs home, split them into firewood-sized piece – again, just like a homeowner would – and then kept them in special containers (called rearing chambers) for a year to record what came out of them.

And what did come out of those pieces of firewood?  THOUSANDS OF INSECTS- even three years after the storm.  And while they didn’t find any really nasty invasive species coming out of the firewood in this study, they found members of the same groups of insects that wreak the most havoc in our forests – bark and ambrosia beetles (the same group as the redbay ambrosia beetle, which is likely responsible for up to 500 million dead trees in the southeastern U.S.), long-horned beetles (the same group as the Asian longhorned beetle, which is a very significant tree pest currently being eradicated in three states within the U.S.), and buprestid beetles (the same group as the emerald ash borer, which has killed over 70 million trees and cost the U.S. billions of dollars in management costs). In fact, the third year of the study was when the most insects came out of the logs!

A tree killed three years ago may look dead on the outside, but it’s teeming with life on the inside.  By all means, you can use it for firewood.  But don’t move it from where it falls to where you burn it very far – ideally you should use it within a few miles of where you get it – because you never know what’s lurking inside that log.

This blog is an independent response and view of the study here: Dodds, K.J., R.P. Hanavan, and M.F. DiGirolomo. 2017. Firewood collected after a catastrophic wind event: the bark beetle (Scolytinae) and woodborer (Buprestidae, Cerambycidae) community present over a 3-year period. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 19: 309-320,

Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death Pathogen Found in Kaua‘i Forest

Guest blog by Melissa Fisher, Director of Kauai Forest Program, The Hawai’i Chapter of The Nature Conservancy

One evening early in May 2018 I received a call from the Kauaʻi Department of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) branch manager that started with, “Are you sitting down?” She quickly shared with me devastating information that the deadly disease that has killed thousands of trees on the island of Hawai’i, Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death (ROD), had now also been found on the island of Kauaʻi. ʻŌhiʻa trees anchor Kauaʻi’s native forest and are deeply significant culturally. The thought that kept running through my mind was, “we thought we had more time.”

A state forester noticed a suspect tree on Forest Reserve land on Kauaʻi and sent a sample to the lab on Hawai‘i island. The sample tested positive for the less aggressive of the two fungal pathogens that are present on Hawai‘i island, named Ceratocystis huliohia. Though less aggressive, it is still a grave threat to ʻōhiʻa forests.

Over the last year, Kauaʻi conservation leaders have been meeting quarterly to review information about the spread of the fungus on Hawai‘i Island and discuss science, signage, and communications plans. We planned to raise public awareness on Kauaʻi, in the hopes of preventing the spread of ROD to our island and our ʻōhiʻa forests.

The phone call was quite a shock, but because we were already organized, we were able to mobilize quickly on Kauaʻi and collaborate with experts from Hawaii island to survey, sample more trees, and determine the best next steps.

There is a lot we do not yet know about the infected area but teams from multiple organizations are working together to determine its extent. A variety of techniques are being used, including: digital sketch mapping of trees using teams in a helicopter, drone surveys to assist with on-the-ground sampling , and testing of a new remote sensing digital mapping technique to map larger areas of the forest.

(photo: Forest survey crew with staff experts from Hawaii island helping to sample suspect trees. credit: L. Behnke, TNC)

All conservation teams on Kauaʻi are on alert in their work areas to report any ʻōhiʻa trees that might have been killed by the fungus.  The ROD fungus itself is not visible on the outside of the tree, so a few characters may help determine if your tree might be infected. First, an apparently healthy tree’s crown will turn from green to yellow then brown and appear dead over a few days to weeks if it has ROD. Next, leaf death will not be scattered but entire branches or the entire crown will die at once. If the tree is in a location were ROD is rare or unconfirmed, then it is possible that the tree died from something other than ROD such as injury or other pathogens. There are several diseases that kill ʻōhiʻa trees and show symptoms similar to ROD. If the tree is in a location where ROD is already prevalent, then it’s very likely that the tree has died from ROD infection. To be positive that the tree has ROD, you would have to submit a sample for testing.

On Kauaʻi, we are asking everyone to help prevent the spread of ROD by doing these five things:

  1. Avoid injuring the bark, branches, or leaves of ʻōhiʻa trees.
  2. Don’t move ʻōhiʻa wood or ʻōhiʻa parts.
  3. Don’t transport ʻōhiʻa wood or parts inter-island.
  4. Clean gear and tools, including shoes and clothes, before and after entering forests. Brush all soil off of tools and gear, then spray with 70% rubbing alcohol. Wash clothes with hot water and soap.
  5. Wash the tires and undercarriage of your vehicle to remove all soil or mud when off-roading or have picked up mud from driving.

Our collaborative team is also laying the groundwork to reach out across Kaua’i to reach specific groups of people who can help spread the word and help prevent the spread, such as; large equipment operators, large land-owners, cultural practitioners, and all forest users.

For more information: