Pest management: Leave firewood at home this summer

Because of the potential of spreading forest pests, MSU Extension forestry educators recommend not transporting firewood from home to campsites around the state.

Summer is a popular time for many Michiganders to vacation around the state and enjoy the abundant forests, lakes and other natural resources that exist in Michigan. During those trips “up north,” people may also choose to camp out at public and private campgrounds across the state. For many vacationers, one of the pleasures of camping is enjoying a campfire at night.

While it may be tempting to haul your own camp firewood to the northern Lower and Upper Peninsulas of Michigan along with all your other camping equipment, 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 at present in Michigan, campers may unexpectedly transport these pest problems to new locations along with the firewood they carry along.

According to a May, 2010 publication by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service entitled 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.

In Michigan, there already exist a few regulatory quarantines enacted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (notably with Emerald Ash Borer) designed to curtail the further spread of this invasive forest pest. In fact, over the last few years there have been Emerald Ash Borer inspection stations located at the Mackinac Bridge to minimize the movement of firewood into the Upper Peninsula.

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 Long Horned Beetle; Hemlock Woolly Adelgid and others). Therefore, it just makes sense to leave that firewood at home and purchase any firewood you may need while camping from local sources near the campground. The inexpensive purchase of firewood locally while camping may help prevent another large scale – and expensive – disaster such as Emerald Ash Borer from reoccurring here in Michigan.

More information on the types of pests that can be transported on firewood and other related topics can be found on the Don’t Move Firewood website.

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