Firewood Banned from Crossing State Borders: Hitch-hiking Pests to Blame

Bringing in your own firewood from home to your camp or cottage may seem economical, efficient, and ecologically sound, but in fact your firewood could be harboring pests that native forests and woodlands cannot compete with nor control. Look at the photo of the firewood below. It looks quite innocent, doesn’t it? But it could be harboring exotic insects that can quickly infest local trees. How do you know if your firewood is infested? Well, you don’t know, so it’s best to leave your wood at home and buy firewood locally where you plan to camp.
Photo: Kimberly Warren

Last year Maine began a campaign to ban firewood from other states, even going so far as to set up an emergency order that included inspection of firewood. Maine Forest Service Forest Entomologist Charlene Donohue had this to say:

"I can't begin to emphasize how important this is. There are several dangerous species that can destroy Maine trees, such as maples and ashes. That destruction not only could kill our forests, but also affect our important forest and tourism industries."
Maine depends heavily on tourism. With its many lakes and rivers, coastal waterways, state parks, and its national park, Acadia, where the Appalachian Trail ends, Maine needs to preserve its natural beauty and biodiversity. It’s called “Vacationland” for this very reason. But Maine needs everyone to pitch in and do what you can to preserve its natural areas for you and your future generations.

But hitchhiking pests is not just a Maine issue. This is a problem all over the U.S. Most of the Northeast, West Coast and Mid-west have restricted the movement of fire wood. To see what pests may be lurking in your firewood, visit the Don’ website.

What can you do to help? Follow these tips from the Maine Forest Service. No matter what state you live in, these small steps that can make a big difference.

  • Don’t transport firewood farther than 50 miles, even if it’s in-state. Pests know no borders.
  • Support local industry; buy your wood locally where you camp.
  • If you already have wood that’s been transported, don’t leave it nor take it home—burn it.
Visit your state’s Forest Service website to find out more, including what pests are a potential hazard in your state. The US Forest Service has links to each state’s forestry service websites.

Helpful Resources:
Maine Forest Service – Out of state untreated firewood banned
Don’t Move Firewood

Blog author: Kimberly Warren, Portland, Maine