Thursday, July 25, 2024

State asks campers to not move firewood


OLYMPIA—Several state agencies are asking campers and outdoor enthusiasts to avoid moving firewood and instead buy it where they burn it this camping season.

The Washington Invasive Species Council, Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ Urban and Community Forestry Program, Washington State Department of Agriculture, and Washington State University Extension strongly encourage outdoor recreationists to heed their “Buy It Where You Burn It” campaign to keep invasive species in check.

The warning comes after emerald ash borer–an invasive, wood-boring beetle that kills ash trees–was found this month in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was first discovered on the West Coast in 2022 near Portland, Oregon.

Emerald ash borer has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America and has moved westward at a rapid pace; experts suspect that moving firewood contributed to their arrival.

“Emerald ash borer and other invasive insects could devastate Washington’s forests,” said Stephanie Helms, the executive coordinator for the Washington Invasive Species Council. “Harm to our forests can affect recreation, tourism and the businesses and wildlife that rely on them.”

The insect’s larvae burrow under the tree bark and eat the sapwood. Once damaged, the bark can’t transport water and nutrients, causing the tree to die gradually. These invasive pests can be found in firewood at all stages of their life cycles. Humans often carry insects greater distances than they can fly or crawl on their own.

“While packing firewood from your home for your camping trip may seem resourceful, you could unintentionally move invasive insects to new parts of the state, to a whole new state entirely or even back home with you,” Helms said. “It is estimated that forest pests cost local governments across the country around $1.7 billion each year, not including costs to landowners. With more than 41 million visitors to state parks alone, we need to be more vigilant.”

How to Help

Protect trees by following these simple steps:

  • Don’t move firewood. Always buy it near where you will burn it.
  • Spread the word–tell friends, neighbors and family about the dangers of moving firewood and encourage those prepping for a camping trip or vacation in their recreational vehicles to buy firewood locally.
  • Call ahead to find local wood dealers near camping destinations.
  • Learn to recognize the pests of concern on the council’s website.
  • Burn all firewood before leaving a campsite.

“It’s not just firewood that can move invasive insects,” Helms said. “Anything that moves can move an invasive species. When traveling, be sure to check shoes, bags, boxes and outdoor gear for insect hitchhikers. This includes all life stages, including the egg and larval stage.”

Getting Communities Prepared

Additional resources are available to members of the public who want to know more about how to prepare for and prevent invasive pests like emerald ash borer. The Washington State Urban Forest Pest Readiness Playbook helps communities prepare for potential pest outbreaks through self-assessments and recommended actions. This tool helps close the gap in readiness and response capabilities between urban forest managers and state and federal responders, which helps everyone better protect urban forests.

Protecting Against the Emerald Ash Borer

For landowners seeking technical guidance on emerald ash borer, which has not been detected in Washington, see the Department of Natural Resources Urban and Community Forestry Program Recommendations for Emerald Ash Borer Response in Washington Communities, as well as the Washington State University Extension publications Emerald Ash Borer and Its Implications for Washington State and Managing Emerald Ash Borer in Washington State.

“Trees are central to our identity as Washingtonians,” Helms said. “And it’s up to all of us to be pest ready, not to move firewood and to buy it where we burn it.”


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