Channeling firewood anger

We got a particularly angry and frustrated entry in the Don't Move Firewood mailbox last week, which has been paraphrased below for clarity.


Dear Don't Move Firewood


I note the sign — and also note that in my twice a week trips to and from Salem, NH — that there is at least ONE sometimes TWO or more vehicles … driving in front of me across the NH/ME bridge, and never even a slow down — ignoring the sign.


… They don't care. … There is NEVER anyone there to pull them over or stop the firewood from coming INTO THE STATE.


…When is anyone going to actually STOP them and fine them and take that illegal firewood and burn it ?


… I NEVER see firewood going SOUTH across the ME/NH bridge…



Frustrated in New England


Dear Frustrated,


I completely agree that it is extremely annoying to see people driving around with firewood, ignoring the signs, potentially moving pests. Depending on how far they are going, and what state(s) they are in, they could be breaking some major laws and subject to fines. But clearly, much like many people that speed aren't given tickets, many people that move firewood are not caught.


I want to directly address your actual question. "When is anyone going to actually STOP them and fine them and take that illegal firewood and burn it?" And the answer is that states in your area, most notably Maine, are doing that more and more, at their borders. I asked Ann Gibbs, Maine State Horticulturalist, to sum up what Maine does to stop firewood at the border, and here was her response;


The Maine Forest Service within the Maine Department of Conservation has conducted firewood exchanges during Memorial Day (2011), Labor Day and Columbus Day (2010) weekends for the past 2 years.  Maine instituted a ban on untreated out of state firewood in 2010 and these firewood exchanges allow folks from other states to exchange the banned firewood for local firewood.  Forest rangers conduct these exchanges at a rest area on the NH border which have been educational at this point, but they will have the legal authority to enforce the ban in the near future. 


So as one example, Maine is doing exactly what you would hope- using key times of the year to stop people and exchange firewood.


And lastly, there is one big thing that YOU can do as a citizen; call or email your state department of agriculture and tell them that you are deeply concerned by firewood that you are seeing being moved in and out of the state. Tell they you think they should consider firewood check stations, and greater outreach programs. Be vocal on your opinions- but remember, budgets are tough, so the agency you call might indeed want to do more work but simply not be able to afford it.


Good luck- and please, channel those frustrations into action! Call your county extension, state department of agriculture, or other group today and tell them that you want more steps taken to slow the spread of pests!