For sake of forest health it’s best not to move firewood

Michigan State University Extension recommends that firewood should not be transported long distances to be sure forests pests are not unintentionally spread to new areas of the state.

As autumn approaches with its shorter days and frosty weather, the winter heating and hunting seasons are upon Michigan. Given that Michigan is a heavily forested state, many people still use firewood to partially or totally heat their homes and hunting camps. In the late summer and early fall many homeowners who burn firewood begin to gather and replenish their supply of wood for the upcoming cold months. Often, people are unaware that while cutting and moving firewood around, that there is also the risk of moving unwanted forest pest problems.

For example, while it may be tempting to haul firewood long distances from your home to your hunting camp along with all your other hunting gear, Michigan State University Extension recommends that you leave that firewood at home instead. Because of the extensive spread of certain forest pests such as Emerald ash borer, Beech bark disease and others that is currently happening in Michigan, people may unexpectedly transport these pest problems to new locations with firewood.

According to a May 2010 publication by the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service titled “Risk Assessment of the Movement of Firewood within the United States”, the “movement of firewood is a high-risk pathway for spreading non-native and native forest pests in the United States.” The experience here in Michigan seems to confirm that fact as both Emerald ash borer and Beech bark disease likely arrived in many portions of the northern lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan via firewood transmission.

Currently in Michigan there already exists a few regulatory quarantines enacted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development  (notably with Emerald ash borer, Hemlock woolly adelgid and others) designed to curtail the further spread of this invasive forest pests.

However, Michigan’s forests are at risk from a growing number of other insect and disease problems being found across the country (e.g. Asian longhorned beetle; Hemlock woolly adelgid and others). Therefore, it makes sense anymore to gather firewood near your home or hunting camp instead of cutting it up and transporting it to your cottage or hunting camp up north or conversely bring firewood back downstate with you from northern Michigan. You just might prevent another disaster such as Emerald ash borer from reoccurring here in Michigan! More information on the types of pests that can be transported on firewood can be found at the Don’t Move Firewood website.

As part of the effort to reduce the chance of new forest pests from moving into Michigan, educators and researchers at Michigan State University have launched a statewide effort to help residents learn about the risks and impacts of invasive forest pests. Funded by the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, the MSU “Eyes on the Forest: Invasive Forest Pest Risk Assessment, Communication and Outreach Project” links research with outreach and communication projects through the MSU Department of Entomology and Michigan State University Extension.

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