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Science and the Environment

Firewood can Harbor Unwanted Guests, according to Conservationists

Simon Griffin

The Missouri Department of Conservation is urging campers to not move firewood.  MDC says moving firewood also moves around tree-killing insects and diseases.  If you want a fire at your campsite, department biologists say to buy firewood at or near the camping destination.

MDC forest entomologist Rob Lawrence says, once in a new location, the pests can start new infestations that destroy forests, decrease property values and cost a lot of money to manage.

Pests that pose the biggest threats to Missouri, according to MDC, are the emerald ash borer, Asian long-horned beetle and thousand cankers disease, which affects black walnut trees. 

According to Lawrence, most pests are actively emerging from wood during the warm months, and moving firewood—even for just a few short days—can easily spread these invasive pests to new locations.

Missouri is currently under a statewide quarantine that restricts the movement of hardwood firewood out of the state as well as the importation of hardwood firewood from some states. At this time, firewood is legal to move within the state, but officials strongly recommend not moving firewood more than 50 miles from where it was harvested to reduce the risk of spreading invasive pests. Moving firewood less than 10 miles from its origin is best, experts say.