As you begin planning for winter’s cold and the cozy fires you’ll enjoy in your wood stove, fireplace or even your fire pit, I want to remind you of the restrictions on the movement of firewood and the consequences of ignoring those restrictions.
The federal government and many states have quarantines in place to restrict the movement of firewood in and out. Plus, there’s a law that prohibits the movement of any wood 50 miles or more from its origin without a permit. Permits are granted only when a wood dealer or transporter has taken the necessary steps to guarantee that the wood is free from contamination by insects and diseases.
There are any number of dangerous insects and diseases that can be imported in wood. That’s how they came to our shores in the first place. They include the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, gypsy moth, spotted lanternfly, Dutch elm disease, and the list goes on.
These pests successfully hitchhike here in or on firewood because they are often invisible to the untrained eye. They may be living inside the wood like the emerald ash borer. Or they may be in egg form like gypsy moth and spotted lanternfly. Once the wood is in your yard, these pests emerge or hatch and go looking for new food sources– i.e. your valuable trees and shrubs and your neighbors’.
Any savings that you realized by buying illegal firewood, and a lot more besides, will be lost in having your infested trees and shrubs either treated or removed and replaced. So that perceived saving is only false economy.
The answer to the dilemma is simple. Buy firewood only from a reputable dealer. Ask the right questions like where they acquired their firewood. If it’s from the guy down the road with a woodlot, you can either trust that he’s telling the truth. If you don’t trust him or believe he bought it from someone more than 50 miles from his lot, ask to see the paperwork showing that his source had the proper permit to bring firewood into your area.
You may consider this attention to detail unnecessary. You may not realize the importance even if I told you how many thousands of trees are lost each year to invasive pests. I certainly hope it doesn’t take a hitchhiking, invasive pest destroying one or more of your valuable, mature trees to drive the seriousness of this problem home.