Don't Move Firewood | Firewood Hitchhikers Campaign
In 2010, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho launched a tri-state outreach campaign to inform the public about the dangers of moving firewood to Pacific Northwest forests. The campaign, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, closely followed the messaging of the national Don't Move Firewood campaign, which recommends buy firewood that was cut locally, preferably within the county or region of where it will be burned. The tri-state outreach campaign, Buy It Where You Burn It, encouraged good campfire practices with branded posters, billboards, and playing cards located at rest stops and state parks.
Firewood is a major pathway for invasive species. Transporting firewood can potentially lead to new infestations of invasive insects and diseases, which can lurk in firewood (see pest list for Oregon species below). These tree-killing pests cannot move far on their own, but when people move the firewood that harbors them, they unwittingly enable these pests to start a new infestation. These types of invaders have devastated native species of trees such as the American chestnut, hemlock, and the American elm—species, which have been part of American forests and streetscapes for centuries.
Don't Move Firewood is an important message shared by the Council, Oregon Department of Agriculture, and Oregon Department of Forestry. Indeed, an administrative rule established in 2012 under the Oregon Department of Agriculture states that, "No person shall transport firewood, by any means, untreated firewood into the State of Oregon, for sale or use within the state from any location outside of the Pacific Northwest" (OAR) 603-052-1080 with the explicit intention of keep wood-boring insects and plant diseases from being introduced to the state.
Common insects and disease pests of trees that can be moved with firewood, currently found in Oregon:
- Mountain pine beetle (native species, in pines)
- Douglas-fir beetle (native species, in Douglas-fir)
- Ips beetle (native species, in pines)
- Wood borers, such as pine sawyers and flat-headed wood borer (native species, in Pines, Douglas-fir and other conifers)
- Powderpost beetles and ambrosia beetles (native species, in conifers and hardwoods)
- Thousand Cankers Disease (exotic pathogen, in walnut)
- Dutch Elm Disease (exotic pathogen, in American elm)
- Sudden oak death (exotic pathogen, in tanoak and several other trees and shrubs)
- Black stain root disease (native pathogen, in Pines, Douglas-fir and other conifers)
Exotic invasive insects and disease pests that can be moved with firewood, not currently found in Oregon:
- Emerald ash borer (ash)
- Asian Longhorn beetle (maples and other hardwoods)
- Ambrosia beetles, such as Polyphagous shothole borer (conifers and hardwoods)
- Gold-spotted oak borer (oak)
- Several species of exotic bark beetles (conifers and hardwoods)
- Oak wilt
What species can be moved with firewood?
Tips to help protect Pacific Northwest forests
- Obtain firewood near the location where you will burn it—that means the wood was cut in a nearby forest, in the same county, or at a maximum of 50 miles from where you’ll have your fire.
- Don’t be tempted to get firewood from a remote location just because the wood looks clean and healthy. It could still harbor tiny insect eggs or microscopic fungal spores that will start a new and deadly infestation of forest pests.
- Aged or seasoned wood is not considered safe to move, but commercially kiln-dried wood is a good option if you must transport firewood.
- If you have already moved firewood, and you now know you need to dispose of it safely, burn it soon and completely. Man sure to rake the storage area carefully and also burn the debris. In the future, buy from a local source.
- Tell your friends and others about the risks of moving firewood—no one wants to be responsible for starting a new pest infestation.