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What is Lurking in Your Firewood?

Guest - August 25, 2011

Leave No Trace – Minimizing the spread of invasive species in firewood

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics has recently implemented new content to address the issue of invasive species being transported in firewood. Most people are aware of the threat invasive species pose on native plants and wildlife. However, what many fail to realize, is how these non-native plants, animals and organisms arrived at their destinations. The answer? People.

Invasive species can cause large-scale, irreversible changes to ecosystems by eliminating native species over time. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, since it’s discovery in 2002, the Emerald Ash Borer (transported from Asia in solid wood packing material) has killed over twenty million ash trees throughout many states surrounding the Great Lakes. It has been estimated that the cost of treatment, removal and replacement of impacted ash trees will exceed $10.7 billion.

The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics recommends:

– Individuals and groups refrain from bringing firewood from home as it may be contaminated with seeds, tree killing insects or diseases.

– Buy local wood near your destination or gather it (where permitted) upon your arrival.

– Avoid possible fines by adhering to local regulations. In some states, federal fines of up to $1,000 may be imposed for transporting hardwoods out of your county.

– As always, before planning to have a campfire, please check with local land management agencies regarding fire restrictions and burn bans.

Invasive species damage the lands and waters that native plants and animals need to survive. They hurt economies and threaten human well-being. With proper education and planning, we can help minimize these impacts and prevent greater decimation of our native plant and animal populations.

Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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