by VDOF Forest Health Specialist Katlin Mooneyham
Independence Day is just around the corner, and that means travel season is officially here! This year, AAA estimates that almost 47 million Americans will be travelling more than 50 miles to celebrate America’s independence. Many of these travelers will be enjoying the great outdoors by camping, and no camping trip is complete without a campfire! However, one of America’s favorite pastimes can also contribute to the unintentional movement of invasive insects, diseases and plants through firewood.
Many of the invasive species we are battling here in Virginia most likely arrived through the movement of wood material. For example, the emerald ash borer (EAB), an insect currently attacking all species of ash in Virginia, has small larvae that bore under the bark of trees and often goes undetected due to its cryptic lifestyle. If someone were to cut an infested ash tree down and then take that wood to a campsite in a state where there is no EAB, the larvae could potentially hatch out and spread. These insects, diseases and plants do not have the means to disperse themselves long distances, but when aided by human movement they are able to travel very far and to new locations.
So how do you enjoy your holiday camping trip without aiding and abetting potentially harmful invasive species? A simple slogan, “Buy it where you burn it!” says it all! Buying heat-treated or local firewood once you get to your destination ensures that these invasive pests don’t move to new locations. While it can sometimes be difficult to find stores in remote locations, a website called Firewood Scout has been created to show stores that sell this type of fire wood in locations across 10 states (including Virginia!). This website also includes links to rules from National and State Parks and information about key invasive threats in each state. If you are interested in learning more about how firewood can be a vehicle for invasive species, please visit https://www.dontmovefirewood.org/
Happy travels and have a safe and fun holiday!