The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) marked the beginning of fall camping season by reminding New Yorkers and visitors to prevent the spread of damaging invasive species by following state firewood requirements when obtaining wood for campfires.
In recognition of October as National Firewood Awareness Month, DEC is releasing new PSA across the state to help raise awareness about firewood movement and its role in spreading invasive species.
Many people take wood from their properties as they head out to camp, hunt, or enjoy the great outdoors, but most don’t realize their wood may be hiding the eggs, larvae, spores, adults, or even seeds of invasive threats. Transporting infested firewood allows invasives to spread further and faster than these pests could or would have on their own.
In 2009, New York State enacted a regulation to prevent this accidental and often long-distance spread by limiting the transportation of firewood. The regulation pertains to all species of wood, cut or not cut, split or not split, destined for use as fuel. Logs are subject to the regulation if their intended use is as firewood.
- Untreated firewood may not be imported into New York from any other state or country.
- Untreated firewood grown in New York may not be transported more than 50 miles (linear distance) from its source or origin unless it has been heat-treated to 71° C (160° F) for 75 minutes.
- Origin is where the wood was grown.
- Source is for producers of firewood to help account for wood from different origins that may become co-mingled as the firewood is processed. Producers must maintain records of where they acquire wood from and ensure the origins are within 50 miles of the source, which is usually the address of their business.
- When transporting firewood, the following documentation is required:
- If transporting untreated firewood cut for personal use (i.e. not for sale) fill out a Self-Issued Certificate of Origin (PDF).
- If purchasing and transporting untreated firewood, it must have a receipt or label that identifies the firewood source. Consumers need to use the source to determine how far the firewood may be transported.
- If purchasing and transporting heat-treated firewood, it must have a receipt or label that says, “New York Approved Heat-Treated Firewood/Pest Free.” This is the producers’ declaration that the firewood meets New York’s heat-treatment requirements. Most “kiln-drying” processes meet the standard, but not all, so it is important to look for the appropriate label. Heat-treated firewood may be moved unrestricted.
Some invasive pests of concern and their respective hosts:
- Asian longhorned beetle – maple, birch, ash, sycamore, poplar, willow, elm, hackberry, mountain ash, horse-chestnut;
- Oak wilt – oak, especially red oak;
- Emerald ash borer – all ash species (white, black, green) (pictured above);
- Asian gypsy moth – more than 500 hosts including oak, basswood, birch, poplar, alder, willow, larch, hemlock, pine, and spruce;
- Light brown apple moth – apple, oak, pine, poplar, walnut; and
- Brown spruce longhorned beetle – spruce.
Any law enforcement officer can enforce this regulation and violations may result in a ticket that carries a $250 fine in addition to other penalties. Untreated firewood moved more than 50 miles may be ordered to be returned to its source/origin or confiscated and destroyed. Failing to follow the regulation could also lead to greater impacts well beyond a ticket fee, such as:
- the death of trees in favorite campgrounds and neighborhoods;
- the loss of trees and forest habitats critical to many species of wildlife including rare, threatened, and endangered species;
- untold ecological impacts from the loss of entire species (akin to the loss of American chestnut or American elm);
- millions of dollars to remove infested or dead trees from campgrounds, yards, parks, playgrounds, and community streets; and
- millions of dollars in liability exposure for public and private property owners from dead and dying trees.