With the Memorial Day holiday weekend coming up this week, many people will be gathering their camping gear and heading off to their favorite campsites. When packing for your trip, leave your firewood behind.

Moving firewood from one location to another could lead to the spread of tree-killing insects and diseases which reside in the firewood. These things could then infest trees in a new location and forever change the landscape of the area.

According to Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, there are 140 pests and diseases that can be moved with firewood. Some are already present in the state of Michigan, while others (including the Asian longhorned beetle, beech leaf disease and spotted lanternfly) are as close as neighboring states.

You may remember the problem here in Michigan with the emerald ash borer in the early 2000s. The bugs ended up killing many of Michigan's 700 million ash trees.

The Michigan Department of Nature Resources offers up the following tips:

  • While your wood may look clean and healthy can still carry insect eggs or "microscopic fungi spores" that can jump start an infestation.
  • Always purchase your firewood near where you will be burning (generally, wood that's been cut within 50 miles of where you'll be burning it).
  • Use FirewoodScout.org to find a firewood vendor near where you will be burning.
  • Certified, heat-treated firewood is safe to move long distances. How do you know if it's certified. It will have a federal stamp or seal on the package.
  • Even it it's aged, it's still not safe. Dry wood does not equal clean wood.
  • If you buy firewood and don't burn it all, leave it where you were planning to burn it. That way, you're paying it forward to the next people AND you're not transporting eggs or fungi spores.
  • Share these tips with your friends.

The Michigan DNR is offering a webinar on Tuesday, May 25th, at 9 am, on "Dynamite! And other tools to protect Michigan's state park trees," exploring how and why tree health is a critical component of state park management. In the webinar you will learn about the variety of tools used to control invasive insects and diseases to keep the forest ecosystem intact. You can register for the webinar at Michigan.gov/EGLEEvents under "Featured Webinar Series."

Get out there and enjoy yourself in our great state this summer, but leave your firewood behind.


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