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Beware of Firewood

Campfires are a central part of camping, but be careful where you get your firewood because it might harbor forest pests, says Ed Quinn, state parks resource management coordinator. Proposed restrictions aim to prevent potentially infested firewood from being brought into state parks and other DNR lands.

Forest pests -- such as the emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, and Asian long-horned beetle -- pose grave dangers to Minnesota's trees. The emerald ash borer is of particular concern because its larvae eat the inner bark of ash trees. Ash borers have killed millions of ash trees in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. They have also been found in Illinois and Maryland. Minnesota has the third largest volume of ash timber in the nation. And firewood is an ideal carrier for ash borers and other forests pests.

"For typical campers, they need to know they should not bring firewood from home to a Minnesota state park, but they should buy it from the park or an approved local vendor" explains Quinn.

The DNR hopes to slow the spread of forest pests in Minnesota with proposed restrictions that would create strict requirements for bringing firewood onto any DNR-administered land, including state parks, state forests, and wildlife management areas. The proposed restrictions are part of a broader effort by the DNR, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, and federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to combat invasive species.

Nearby states, such as Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois, have already implemented rules to stop or slow the spread of forest pests. Some states have quarantines barring entrance of out-of-state wood.

The DNR, MDA, and other state agencies are working together to provide information on firewood and forest pests to national firewood distributors, private campgrounds, large chain retail stores, and other firewood sellers.

In addition to DNR lands, Quinn says campers should be careful about the firewood they bring to any campground they visit. After all, pests don't know what jurisdiction a forest falls under; they just eat trees.

Megan Nelson, editorial intern

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