Cottonwood and Pecan to California

Let's finish up this week right with a question for our advice column, Dear Don't Move Firewood.


Dear Don't Move Firewood,


Can I bring either or both Cottonwood and/or Pecan firewood into California from Arizona?  I have relatives there  and access to such wood…. I would be bringing the wood on the I-10 through the Blythe area. The Cottonwood would be coming from Globe, AZ and the Pecan from the Gilbert/Phoenix area.  I'm not sure which I would get, probably the Pecan as I think it may burn better? (Ed. note: question lightly edited for clarity)



Jim from California


Dear Jim,


I posed your question to the local expert, Don Owen from the Calif. Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection. He's the chair of the California Firewood Task Force. Here's his response:


"The CA Firewood Task Force does not recommend bringing firewood of any kind into the state unless it has been treated to eliminated pests.  There is no quarantine that prevents the movement of this wood, but if it is infested with insects or other pests, the CA Agricultural Border Stations may confiscate and destroy it."


My opinion, as the manager of Don't Move Firewood, is that moving cottonwood and pecan wood this far is really not a good idea and you shouldn't do it. Even if you lived in Blythe (which it looks like you live farther West into CA given your email, but setting that aside) you'd be moving this wood over 240 miles- that's almost five times the very maximum recommended distance for moving firewood.


There are many tree pests even in the arid areas of Arizona that you'd risk transporting. Did you know that the goldspotted oak borer, which has killed tens of thousands of oaks in San Diego County, might have gotten there from firewood originating in Arizona? You'd hate to be responsible for killing tens of thousands of California pecan trees, accidentally, if your wood had some previously unknown pests within it.


So here's the bottom line- please don't move that firewood. Truthfully, it wouldn't be against the law to do it, but it isn't a good decision, and it may end up confiscated at the CA border anyway.


Thanks for asking!