Support Healthy Forests: leave your firewood at home
May 20, 2022
For more information contact: Jim Britt at: Jim.Britt@maine.gov
With Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week and the kick-off to summer recreation season upon us, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry reminds everyone to choose local or heat-treated firewood.
We move tree-killing pests and diseases to new places in and on untreated firewood.
Leaving the firewood at home on your next trip helps protect our trees and forests.
Trees cover nearly 90% of Maine's land.
In Maine, trees:
- Support one out of every 25 jobs through the forest products sector alone,
- Provide food and shelter for our birds, bears, bees, deer, and other wildlife,
- Stabilize the soils and protect water quality,
- Absorb carbon dioxide and give back oxygen, and more.
Trees are under threat every day from invasive forest insects and diseases. They are vulnerable to new introductions of these pests, which are easily spread when firewood is moved.
What's in your firewood? Maybe the next threat to Maine's pristine lakeshores and excellent trout habitat, Maine's tourism, recreation, and forest economies, Maine's scenic mountains and shores, Maine's way of life, and the way life should be.
Many of us mistakenly think that firewood is dead. In truth, firewood harbors live insects and pathogens for many years after the tree has been cut into firewood. These insects and diseases can spread to living trees, causing them to die.
Firewood movement contributed to the rapid spread of the emerald ash borer, a devastating invasive insect that has killed billions of ash trees in North America and thousands in Maine. Many other invasive pests can also hide on or in firewood. Here are a few examples of what you could carry with you when you move firewood:
- Oak wilt fungus that threatens our oak trees;
- The colorful planthopper and expert hitchhiker, the spotted lanternfly that threatens not only trees but also important crops and certain adult beverages (e.g., wine);
- The devastating Asian longhorned beetle that can kill many of our hardwood trees, including the sugar maple,
- And the rash-causing, tree-defoliator, browntail moth.
These invasive pests are just a few of many forest health threats that we know can move with firewood. Tiny insect eggs or microscopic fungi may be lurking on or under the bark, waiting to be carried to a new location. Even seemingly pest-free firewood can harbor hidden hitchhikers. We can help slow their spread by choosing to use local or certified-heat treated firewood.
Firewood tips for your next outdoor recreation trip
- Leave firewood at home.
- Buy firewood as close to your destination as possible.
- Purchasing certified firewood is the best choice. Buy firewood with a state seal stating the wood has been heat-treated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 75 minutes to make sure it is pest free.
- If certified firewood is not available, purchase your firewood as close as possible to where you will burn it.
- At some sites, you may be able to gather firewood on or near the site. Check local rules.
- If you buy wood that is not heat-treated or gather firewood and don't burn it all, don't take it home with you or to your next destination.
What is local?
Generally, when it comes to firewood, 50 miles is too far, and 10 miles or less is best.
Where can I find heat-treated or local firewood?
Maine and several other states use Firewood Scout to help travelers find sources of firewood near their destination. Also, many people sell campfire wood along Maine's roadways, especially close to campgrounds and parks.
What if I already moved untreated firewood?
- Burn it. Do so safely, quickly, and completely. Be sure to also burn any small pieces of bark and debris that have fallen from the wood.
- If you cant burn it all within 24 hours reach out to the Maine Forest Service for safe disposal options.
What else should I know about moving firewood in Maine?
- Maine has a ban on untreated out-of-state firewood.
- Quarantines in and outside of Maine, such as those related to emerald ash borer and European larch canker, also impact the legal firewood movement.
- Some destinations have additional limitations; for instance, bringing firewood to Baxter State Park is prohibited.
- Learn more at maine.gov/firewood and www.dontmovefirewood.org.