This Protector’s Activity was contributed by Laurel Downs, the Forest Health Conservation Coordinator with The Nature Conservancy. 

What's The Issue?

October is Firewood Month! Did you know that invasive forest pests and diseases often use firewood as a pathway to spread to new areas? Pests like emerald ash borer, longhorned beetle, spotted lanternfly and many others can stay hidden in or on the wood for months at a time (even through brutal winters), and when people transport firewood from one area to another, these invasive pests often emerge to infest new areas. 

Due to the prevalence of hitchhiker pests, many states and parks have rules to encourage the use of local and/or certified, heat-treated firewood. For example, here in New York it is against the law to move untreated firewood more than 50 miles from where it originated. To be considered “treated” in New York, a government certified facility must subject the firewood to a heat-treatment process that is hot enough – and for long enough – to kill any pests in the wood (in New York this standard is 71° C (160° F) for 75 minutes). The state prohibits the entry of firewood that does not meet this standard! (View Firewood Regulations).

What Can You Do to Help?

Your firewood choices matter and you can help slow the spread of tree-killing pests and diseases by following some best practices, no matter where you are!

  1. Buy or source firewood from where you’ll burn it. 
  2. Buy certified, heat-treated firewood (it’s the ONLY safe firewood to travel with).
  3. Responsibly gather firewood on-site when permitted.

By sourcing your firewood locally, and keeping it local, you dramatically reduce the risk of accidentally transporting invasive species that could go on to decimate tree populations in new areas. 

What to Look For

It is nearly impossible to tell if firewood has harmful insects living inside the wood. So, if you do need to travel with firewood for any reason, purchase firewood that is labeled as certified, heat-treated firewood (in New York it will be labeled as “New York Approved Heat-treated Firewood/Pest Free” with the producer’s name and address), or – keep that firewood as near as possible to where it originated!

Stick to the rules to protect your trees; any firewood you transport in New York should be accompanied by a  document with the source, origin, and/or heat-treatment of the firewood. Even if traveling with firewood cut for personal use, be sure to have a Self-issued Certificate of Origin – this could save you from losing your firewood or even a hefty fine!

Use these tools to learn more about firewood regulations and where to source local firewood.

Help Spread the Word

Help spread the word! October is one of the most beautiful times of year to get outside in New York and a very popular time to go camping! So now is the perfect time to let your friends and family know about the risks to forest health caused by moving firewood.

Use the premade graphics and captions below to encourage them to get firewood near their destination! Many parks sell firewood right at the campground store or at least will know of nearby vendors. After all, it saves trees AND space in the trunk. (Get more graphics and sources in the Don’t Move Firewood Resource Library).

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