With the cooler temperatures blanketing much of the state, purchasing firewood is at the front of many Mississippians’ minds. It’s important to buy local firewood to prevent the spread of tree-killing forest pests.
“When it comes to buying firewood, make sure you buy logs that have been cut in your county,” said Russell Bozeman, Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) state forester. “Moving firewood over long distances (more than 50 miles) can increase the risk of introducing new pests that kill trees.”
Transporting firewood can potentially create new infestations of invasive insects and diseases, which can lurk in firewood at any time of the year. These tree-killing pests cannot move far on their own, but when people move firewood that harbors them, they unwittingly enable these pests to start an infestation far from their current range.
Past invaders have devastated native species of trees such as the American chestnut, hemlock, and American elm- tree species which have been part of American forests and city streets for centuries prior to the invasion of foreign pests.
The Don’t Move Firewood campaign offers these tips:
- Obtain firewood near the location where you will burn it – that means the wood was cut in a nearby forest, in the same county, or at a maximum of 50 miles from where you’ll have your fire.
- Don’t be tempted to get firewood from a remote location just because the wood looks clean and healthy. It could still harbor tiny insect eggs or microscopic fungal spores that will start a new and deadly infestation of forest pests.
- Aged or seasoned wood is not considered safe to move, but commercially kiln-dried wood is a good option if you must transport firewood.
- If you have already moved firewood, and you now know you need to dispose of it safely, burn it soon and completely. Make sure to rake the storage area carefully and also burn the debris. In the future, buy from a local source.
- Tell your friends and others about the risks of moving firewood – no one wants to be responsible for starting a new pest infestation.
“Trees provide a multitude of benefits to people – from providing oxygen to filtering drinking water to providing shade. We can all do our part to help protect the trees in our area,” Bozeman said. “Remember, buy local and burn local because healthy trees equal healthy lives.”
Click here for more firewood safety tips.