Packing For Your Camping Trip? Leave the Firewood at Home

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MADISON — Memorial Day weekend is coming and as campers get out enjoying the great outdoors, state officials from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources are reminding campers and others that firewood can transport dangerous pests. To help prevent the spread of forest pests, people should avoid moving firewood from more than 50 miles or from out-of-state.

“Many invasive, destructive pests and diseases can travel on firewood,” says Andrea Diss-Torrance, DNR forest health specialist. “Unsuspecting campers can introduce these pests to the places and trees they enjoy.”

To help protect state parks and natural areas, as well as neighborhood trees, state rules prohibit moving firewood from outside of Wisconsin and from more than 50 miles away into all DNR managed properties including state parks and forests.

The rule means that people who camp on state-managed land will need to buy firewood at the campground or from nearby Wisconsin firewood dealers who sell wood cut from less than 50 miles from the campground and within Wisconsin. All other firewood will be confiscated upon entry to the park and destroyed.

“Campers are most likely to obtain safe firewood from within the park, where 60 percent of the concessionaires are park friends groups and most of the wood is obtained from the park itself,” says Peter Biermeier of Wisconsin State Parks and Recreation. “State parks have made great improvements in the quality of their firewood and have kept prices reasonable,” he says.

By purchasing within the park, campers help protect the parks from invasive pests and diseases, and make another contribution. All of the profits made by the friends groups are used to enhance park programs, shelter buildings, and other services.

To find out about firewood availability at your destination, contact the Wisconsin park or state forest directly..

Campers should know that many county and private campgrounds are also restricting firewood on their properties to protect the resource. It’s a good idea to contact these destinations before you leave home too.

“Spring is the season when many forest pests such as gypsy moth hatch and begin feeding on our trees,” says Diss-Torrance. “More importantly, it is the time when pests and diseases such as the emerald ash borer and oak wilt hitch a ride on firewood and are introduced to new areas.”

Once this happens, the effects can be devastating to the area’s forests and urban trees.

“The general rule to remember is that once you are within one hour’s drive of your park destination you can start looking for firewood dealers to supply your campfire fuel,” says Biermeier.

20,000 people who have already reserved a campsite on DNR property for 2008, and 46,000 walk-in campers from 2007 have been mailed a post card reminding them of the firewood rule. Firewood information is also provided twice during the reservation process.

“The idea is to get the word out in as many ways as possible before people plan and pack for their camping trip,” says Diss-Torrance.

Due to the devastation caused in other states by emerald ash borer, federal quarantines have been placed on firewood from Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. Anyone moving firewood out of these states is subject to federal fines of up to $1,000.

People who reserved a campsite on DNR property for 2008, should watch for a post card in the mail reminding them of this firewood rule and plan ahead.

To learn more about Emerald Ash Borer, what’s being done, and what you can do to help, visit [] (exit DNR). More about Wisconsin’s firewood rule is available on the DNR Web site or call the firewood hotline at 1-877-303-WOOD (9663).

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Andrea Diss-Torrance (608) 264-9247; Peter Biermeier – (608) 264-6136