What’s in your firewood?
In recognition of October being Firewood Awareness Month, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry asks: what's in your firewood? Maybe the next threat to Maine's pristine lakeshores and great trout habitat, to Maine's tourism, recreation, and forest economies, to Maine's scenic mountains and shores, to Maine's way of life and the way life should be.
Trees cover nearly 90% of Maine's land; trees that, through the forest products sector alone, support one out of every 25 jobs in Maine.
- provide food and shelter for our birds, bears, bees, and deer,
- stabilize the soils, absorb carbon dioxide and give back oxygen,
- give way to the magical colors of fall that attract thousands of visitors each year.
Trees are under threat every day from invasive forest insects and diseases. They are vulnerable to new introductions of these pests, which are easily spread when firewood is moved.
Many of us mistakenly think that firewood is dead. In truth, firewood harbors live insects and pathogens for many years after the tree has been cut into firewood. These insects and diseases can spread to living trees, causing them to die.
Don’t Move Firewood!
Firewood movement contributed to the rapid spread of the emerald ash borer, a devastating invasive insect that has killed billions of ash trees in North America. Many other invasive pests can also hide on or in firewood. Here are a few examples of what you could carry with you when you move firewood:
- Oak wilt fungus that threatens our oak trees;
- The colorful planthopper and expert hitchhiker, the spotted lanternfly that threatens not only trees but also important crops and certain adult beverages (e.g., wine);
- And the devastating Asian longhorned beetle that can kill many of our hardwood trees, including the sugar maple,
- And the rash-causing, tree-defoliator, browntail moth.
These invasive pests are just a few of many forest health threats that we know can move with firewood. Tiny insect eggs or microscopic fungi may be lurking on or under the bark, waiting to be carried to a new location. Even seemingly pest-free firewood can harbor hidden hitchhikers.
If you have questions, check out the Don't Move Firewood FAQ.