Planning on camping this Memorial Day weekend? Make sure you know all the regulations regarding the transportation of firewood.
Emerald ash borer in wood, photo provided by DEC
This week up through Saturday is Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week, which brings to light the seriousness of the laws surrounding firewood. The movement of firewood is a major cause of insect and disease infestations.
“With the beginning of camping season in full swing it is important to remind travelers to New York State to use only local firewood. The spread of these insects, and other forest pests, has been dramatically increased through human transport,” Acting Commissioner of the DEC Basil Seggos said in a statement.
What this means for you – whether you’re traveling to or from New York, or staying in the state – is that you most likely cannot bring your own firewood with you when camping.
In New York State, firewood cut from your own property cannot be moved more than 50 miles, and you must have a Self-Issued Certificate of Origin, which can be obtained through the DEC. If you do choose to transport firewood under the 50 mile limit, it must have either that certificate of origin, or a receipt stating the origin.
Only firewood labeled as meeting New York State’s heat treatment standard to kill pests may be transported into the state and farther than 50 miles from the source. Acceptable firewood heat treatment must raise the core temperature of the firewood to 160 degrees F for 75 minutes. Again, a certificate proving this is required.
Despite the aforementioned precautions, some areas may even have quarantines that further restrict the movement of firewood.
Your best bet is to just leave your firewood at home. No need to drive all the way to your destination only to be refused.
You can most likely purchase firewood at the campground or park you are going to. If you’re unsure if firewood is sold at a particular camping spot, call ahead of time. If it isn’t sold there, they can likely direct you to a local vendor. If you still require more information or clarification, you can always reach out to the DEC.
If you’re planning on camping in Vermont, they have very recently implemented a law prohibiting the importation of untreated firewood into the state. Any firewood brought into Vermont must have certification that it has been heat treated. As with New York State, that means heated at the core to at least 160 degrees F for at least 75 minutes.
Also as with New York State, you can simply purchase your firewood at many of the campgrounds and state parks once you get into Vermont.
For both New York State and Vermont the firewood regulations include all tree species. All trees can be potentially vulnerable to non-native insects. In addition to the pests we know about, there could be even more that have not yet been discovered.
The ash borer and other destructive insects like the Asian long-horned beetle and the European gypsy moth are responsible for the death of millions of trees. The ash borer alone has killed 50 million ash trees in this country. The loss of these trees can lead to serious ecological damage, and can cost millions of dollars to combat.
In short, keep your firewood at home for use on your own property and buy firewood for camping at the site upon arrival.
Finally, in addition to the firewood regulations, if you see an infestation while you’re out camping or hiking, the DEC is asking the public to report it.
For the ash borer, the insect leaves noticeable D-shaped exit holes in the bark and branches of the ash tree; there can also be splits in the bark. The canopy will be significantly reduced, with dying, withering leaves turning yellow or brown. You might also see further damage from woodpeckers that eat the ash borer.
Rest assured that by complying with firewood laws, and reporting signs of disease you see on trees, you are significantly contributing to the prevention of devastating infestations.
Knowing that, you can have a lawful and enjoyable long weekend camping!