Proper handling of firewood can help curb bark beetle infestations

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    Glacier National Park: Chris Peterson

    You’ve seen pictures of – and possibly even seen in person – the vast swaths of dead forest in the West (photo left) as a result of bark beetle infestation, and even more in TV news stories of the raging wildfires sweeping the West feeding on these dead trees.

    The following is an excerpt from the Green Bulletin published by the University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, on how the public – including RVers – can help to stop spread the rising threat of beetle and other pest infestations and the resultant wildfires.

    Green Bulletin Vol. 8 * No. 2 * Fall 2018
    Invasive insects and diseases are threatening numerous tree species throughout the country. Impacts include tree mortality, destruction of forest and urban habitats, and other significant changes in forest ecosystems due to the decline or elimination of tree species. Many of these pests can be transported in inadequately processed wood, including firewood. Preventing the spread of these pests to new areas is critical for protecting valuable forest resources. Invasive forest pests of concern include those established in other parts of the country … as well as those with limited distributions in California and other areas of the western U.S. …

    General recommendations for handling and using firewood
    •Don’t move firewood long distances from where it was purchased. Use wood from local sources: “Buy it where you burn it.”
    • Ask about the firewood you are buying. Is it from a local source (less than 50 miles preferred) or has it been treated to eliminate or reduce pests (e.g. heat treated or seasoned for 2 or more years)?
    • When purchasing firewood for camping, buy an amount that can be completely burned during your stay. If firewood is left over, leave it for the next camper; don’t take it home with you.
    • Plan on cutting firewood within 50 miles of where it will be used.
    • Seasoning of green wood (letting it dry) for at least 2 years or using wood from trees that have been dead for at least 2 years can reduce the danger of transporting most invasive insects threatening trees.
    • Note that cutting standing trees can be dangerous, especially dead trees which often are unstable. Only cut standing trees if you have the proper equipment and training to do it safely.


    What kind of firewood is safe to move?
    Most packaged heat-treated firewood with a USDA APHIS, or a state-based (such as State Department of Agriculture) heat treatment seal is considered safe to move. Certified heat-treated firewood is heated to the approved heat treatment level for emerald ash borer so most insect pests and pathogens in the wood have been killed. Firewood labeled “kiln-dried” is not considered safe to move. Even with heat-treated firewood, it’s best not to move it but instead Buy It Where You Burn It.
    Read the entire Green Bulletin for more information.

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