Issue 4, May 15, 2009

Invasive Species and Firewood

With Memorial Day just around the corner, many people are digging out their grills and dusting off their gardening tools. Vegetable gardens and landscaping plans are in full swing. You may even be thinking about airing out the camping gear in anticipation of a weekend trip this summer, but are you aware of the dangers associated with invasive species and moving firewood?

Do you know what could be hiding in your firewood?

Non-native insects and diseases that have found their way into the United States are being transported long distances as "hitch-hikers" in firewood. On their own, these pests move very slowly--only a couple of miles or less per year. Unfortunately, people are innocently providing a ready means of dispersal, often several hundred miles per day, by bringing infested firewood from home to their camping, sporting, or second home destinations.

Insects such as the gypsy moth and emerald ash borer are just two of the many different pests that are moved in firewood. The presence of emerald ash borer in the state of Illinois has changed how firewood and forest products can be moved within our state.

Firewood Regulations in Illinois

State and federal quarantines regulate the movement of invasives in commercial forest products. The federal government has quarantined the entire state of Illinois (Adobe PDF), making it illegal to move ash products (ash trees, parts of ash trees) as well as all hardwood firewood outside of the state without federal certification. The state of Illinois has also quarantined infested areas within the state, making it illegal to move these materials out of those infested areas.

The quarantine prohibits the removal of the following items from the respective quarantine areas:

  • The emerald ash borer in any living stage of development
  • Ash trees of any size
  • Ash limbs and branches
  • Any cut, non-coniferous firewood
  • Bark from ash trees and wood chips larger than 1 inch from ash trees
  • Ash logs and lumber with either the bark or the outer 1 inch of sapwood, or both, attached
  • Any item made from or containing the wood or the ash tree that is capable of spreading the emerald ash borer
  • Any other article, product or means of conveyance determined by the Illinois Department of Agriculture to present a risk of spreading the beetle infestation.

So, as you get ready to head out to your favorite camping destinations, please remember these firewood tips.

If you purchase firewood:

  • Buy it close to where it will be burned
  • Make sure it is labeled with required information (commercially bought)
  • Make sure it has the federal shield (examples of the USDA shield can be found in this document [Adobe PDF])

If you have your own firewood:

  • Burn it close to where it was harvested/cut down

Visit the Illinois CAPS website for all the latest news on invasive pests in Illinois.--Kelly Estes

Kelly Estes

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