Featured Guest Article:
Campers are Being Reminded of Hidden Dangers…in their Firewood
Article written by: Sarah Stovall
Now that winter is over, and summer is approaching, outdoor enthusiasts are gearing up for a new camping season. Reservations are being made, RVs are coming out of storage and people are looking for a REI coupon to clip for that must have piece of gear they need.
But there is another activity that actually poses a hazard to the forests and camping areas so many Americans love.
Firewood has been cut and is being seasoned. Some campers will haul it to their favorite destination where it will transform hot dogs to dinner and marshmallows into a gooey campground necessity.
The problem is that firewood can carry microscopic invasive species that threaten native trees. Invasive species councils in the Pacific Northwest were at the forefront of the warnings, suggesting campers only buy firewood that is cut in the same county or region where it will be burned. The general rule of thumb is to not transport untreated wood more than 50 miles.
The Maine Forest Service began offering warnings in 2009. The spread of the Asian longhorned beetle is particularly troublesome, as an infestation could wipe out their maple sugar and tourism industries.
The bugs will spread on their own, but typically just a few miles a year if left alone. Transporting firewood can expedite the spread of the harmful bugs, potentially damaging forests for hundreds of miles. Wood-boring pests, such as the emerald ash borer, European gypsy moth and the aforementioned Asian longhorned beetle, have destroyed millions of trees in the Midwest and Eastern states. Entire forests of hemlock, chestnut, elm and ash trees have been devastated by invasive pests.
The Nature Conservancy states one in 20 Americans aren’t following the guidelines. They also point out that the guidelines are actually laws in certain jurisdictions. They are promoting the following tips to ensure safe, clean firewood is being burnt:
· When driving to a campsite more than 50 miles away, call the State or Federal Park or forests nearest the site and ask if they know of local distributors.
· Search the yellow pages for a local dealer.
· Ask the firewood dealer where the wood was cut — if it isn’t within 50 miles, or if it is from outside the county, find another source.
· Leave locally purchased wood at the campsite for the next campers when you leave.
· Be aware of state and county firewood regulations before you go. Some states don’t allow you to bring firewood across their borders, and many counties restrict firewood movement out of the area.
It is important to remember that wood isn’t safe just because it is seasoned. Only kiln-dried wood can eradicate insect eggs and microscopic fungal spores.
Those who are in possession of firewood that has traveled more than 50 miles are being encouraged to burn it as soon as possible. The storage area needs to be thoroughly cleaned and the debris should be burned as well.
It’s a simple step, but an important one. When it comes to firewood: Buy locally and think globally.
Author Bio: Sarah Stovall loves taking her dog, Ralph, on long hikes through the local state park.