LANSING — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is reminding the public about the risk of accidentally spreading invasive species while moving firewood. New infestations of invasive pests or diseases can be devastating and pose a serious threat to Michigan’s agriculture, forests and the environment.
Harmful invasive species, some of which are invisible to the naked eye, can hide in or on firewood. While most cannot move far on their own, these pests and diseases can be transported undetected on travelers’ firewood, starting new infestations in locations hundreds of miles away. These invasive species threaten native tree species without natural defenses against these pests and diseases. Infestations also can destroy forests, lower property values and cost huge sums of money to control.
“It is nearly impossible to detect diseases — like thousand cankers disease, which affects walnut trees, or oak wilt in oak trees — just by looking at the wood,‘ said Mike Philip, director of MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division. “Never assume wood appearing uninfested is safe to move.‘
Jason Fleming, chief of resource protection and promotion in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division, said awareness of these tree pests and diseases and a commitment to not move firewood are especially important at Michigan’s state parks, where many trees and forested areas have been devastated.
“As camping resumes this year, we urge all campers to look to purchase firewood at the state park campgrounds, rather than bring wood with you,‘ Fleming said. “Typically, the firewood sold at state parks is affordable, locally sourced or heat-treated to eliminate pests and diseases.‘
One way MDARD safeguards Michigan’s natural resources against harmful insects and diseases is through plant pest quarantines, which limit the movement of certain plant material within, into or out of the state.
“Over the last hundred years, invasive pests have killed tens of millions of trees in forests, cities and communities across the country,‘ said Philip. “Quarantines can help limit the movement of potentially infested wood, but everyone has to do their part to stop or slow the spread of invasive species.‘
— To limit the spread of invasive species, leave firewood at home and:
— Use firewood certified as heat-treated.
— Buy firewood at your destination.
— Burn all wood on-site, and do not take any home or to a new location.