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Invasive species can hide in firewood

Jul 09, 2020

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is reminding the public about the risk of spreading tree-killing invasive species while moving firewood. New infestations of invasive pests or diseases pose a serious threat to Maine’s landscapes, trees, agriculture, forests, wildlife, and the environment.

Harmful invasive species, some of which are invisible to the naked eye, can hide in or on firewood. While most cannot move far on their own, these pests and diseases can be carried long distances on travelers’ firewood and start new infestations. Native tree species and planted fruit trees and shrubs lack defenses against these new pests and diseases. Infestations can destroy entire forests, lower property values, and cost millions of dollars to manage.

“It is often impossible to tell just by looking at the wood whether it is has devastating insects or diseases hitching a ride in or on it,” said Gary Fish, state horticulturist. “Never assume wood that looks uninfested is safe to move.”

Allison Kanoti, state entomologist, said, “Important steps towards slowing the spread of invasive species we can all take are to realize that untreated firewood moved a long distance is a threat to trees and forests and to commit to using only local or certified heat-treated wood. Bringing untreated firewood into the state is banned, but in a state as big as Maine, the commitment to use local or heat treated wood needs to be applied to movement of firewood within the state as well.”

As camping resumes this year, DACF urges all campers to look to source firewood locally, rather than bring wood with you. Typically, the firewood sold by in-state vendors is affordable, locally sourced, or heat-treated to eliminate pests and diseases. The Firewood Scout website can help campers find local firewood at http://www.firewoodscout.org/.”

To limit the spread of invasive species, leave firewood at home; use firewood certified as heat-treated; buy firewood at the destination or gather it on-site where permitted; and burn all wood on-site — do not take any home or to a new location.

DACF safeguards Maine’s natural resources against harmful insects and diseases through plant pest quarantines, which limit the movement of certain plant material within, into or out of the state. Over the last hundred years, invasive pests have killed tens of millions of trees in forests, cities and communities across the country.

Quarantines can help limit the movement of potentially infested wood, but everyone has to do their part to stop or slow the spread of invasive species. Learn more about invasive threats and Maine's six forestry related quarantines currently in effect on maineforestservice.gov.

Learn more about Maine's untreated out of state firewood ban online at www.maine.gov/firewood.

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