Friday, October 29, 2010

Don't Move Firewood by Carol King

It’s the time of year to curl up by the fire,  great book in hand,  a glass of your favorite wine by your side.  It’s also time to ask yourself “Where’s my firewood from?”  Did you move your firewood from another state or another area of the state?  Many agricultural and natural resources professionals believe that the movement of firewood is probably the biggest threat to our tree populations. So many people burn wood and so many people move wood without thinking. Many states have prohibitions against moving firewood from one county to another and federal regulations prohibit moving any ash logs out of quarantined areas. (Colorado does not have a prohibition.)
Our most recent tree tragedy directly related to firewood movement is thousand cankers disease that has devastated much of our black walnut population. In 2010, the disease swept east to black walnuts in North Park Hill and Washington Park and south to Harvey Park affecting at least twenty neighborhoods. It has devastated many walnuts in Jefferson County.

Thousand Cankers Disease in Walnut
In fact, much of the tree devastation that we have experienced across the county has been exacerbated by people moving firewood. Consider these:
• The emerald ash borer that has destroyed millions and millions, in fact, most of the ash trees in the Midwest and East was introduced through wood packing material carried in cargo planes or ships from Asia. It continues to be spread by firewood.
• The gypsy moth and oak wilt are spread by firewood movement.
• The beetle-borne fungus “thousand cankers disease” that is destroying all the walnuts in the metro area is suspected to have been brought from New Mexico on firewood.
• The Dutch elm disease came from a load of logs infected with the elm bark beetle that was moved from the Netherlands and has destroyed most of the American Elms in the USA.
• Other bugs that have moved into the Front Range from firewood are the Ips beetle that attacks pine and spruce and red turpentine beetles that attack native pine species. Asian longhorn beetle that attacks maples, poplar, willows and black locust;  Sirex woodwasp that attacks pines have destroyed trees in the Midwest through firewood movement.

Colorado State University Extension suggests asking these questions before buying or moving wood:

Where was this wood cut?
Wood should NOT be brought in from other states. If the wood you plan to bring is infested with live mountain pine beetle larvae, you run the risk of bringing the beetle into the city. This could happen if you cut trees that are still somewhat alive. The wood from totally dead trees is ok; the beetles leave dead trees and move on to the living.

Is local wood available for purchase?
Look for Colorado Forest Products logo which means 50% of wood is from Colorado forests.

Can I buy firewood at my camping/hunting destination? 
Don’t take wood to your campsite. Buy your wood at your campground. Leave wood not burned in place. Don’t bring it back home.

Is this wood treated, kiln dried or de- barked? 
Firewood should be dry and ready to burn. Bark should be peeled off easily and be removed from the wood.

What tree species is this wood? Ash is high risk because of Emerald Ash Borer; walnut because of thousand cankers disease.

Burn wood from local sources (“buy it where you burn it”).  Look to your conscience, dear gardener, if you decide to move firewood or bring beetle kill logs to your home. At the very least, check for bugs.