Campfires and Firewood: Emerald Ash Borers Raise Concerns for Vacation Camping
Camping is an Affordable Vacation
Camping makes vacations affordable and consequently possible for many folks. In tough economic times, inexpensive state campgrounds look better than ever. However, recently close to one quarter of the states in the USA restricts one cost cutting measure campers took: bringing their own firewood from home.
Invasive Insect which Likes Wood
New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan are on a federal hit list. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued an alert that an invasive insect first found in the USA in 2002 is now in all these states. It has already destroyed millions of ash trees.
The problem bug is the Emerald Ash Borer. Emerald fittingly describes its shiny green wings, although at approximately half an inch long, it can be difficult to spot. The harm occurs after eggs hatch and the larva bore (thus “borer”) into the tree, eating it and killing it.
How does this effect camping?
So how, one may ask, does this connect to camping? The United States Department of Agriculture determined that borer has gained territory through inadvertent human help in transported timber, nursery stock and firewood. Commendably, the Department wants to prevent the loss of all species of ash in this country. It has established quarantines which the individual states are helping enforce. (Our good neighbor to the north, Canada, also has found the emerald ash borer.)
Imagine your favorite campground with a large segment of trees missing. Not a happy picture. Your cooperation can help avert this occurrence.
Relatively Easy to Find Campground Rules
I checked the online information for state campgrounds for each of the above-mentioned states with quarantines. As of 2011 these states’ webpages for State Park Campgrounds include a rule, advisory, or strong recommendation against bringing firewood from another region into the park:
It is likely that the remaining states do have restrictions in place, but that they are contained elsewhere (NY has the firewood rule on its conservation of natural resources website). In any case, one would be wise to phone the intended campground to inquire what is available and what is permitted.
Indiana Explains It All
IN (stateparks.in.gov) This page has quite detailed firewood restriction information:
“There are 140 known pests and pathogens that can be moved from place to place in firewood. We all have a responsibility to conserve our Hoosier forests, so the DNR has implemented a new firewood management policy that will be in place on all of our properties this year.
We also know how important campfires are to each of you when you camp, so we’ve included ways that you can still bring firewood in with you.
You can bring firewood into a state park, reservoir, state forest or state fish and wildlife area if
- It is kiln-dried scrap lumber.
- It is from your home or other location in Indiana and has the bark removed. (Ideally, ½ inch of sapwood beneath the bark will also be removed.)
- It is purchased from a department store, grocery store, gas station, etc. and bears a USDA compliance stamp.
- It is purchased from a local firewood vendor outside the property and has a state compliance stamp with it.
- It is purchased from the property campstore or on-site firewood vendor and has a state compliance stamp.”
I congratulate Indiana for a well-considered explicit explanation and set of rules.
Be Part of the Remedy
Before you head out to the campground, if sitting around the old campfire is a big part of your enjoyment, find out the rules regarding firewood. Be prepared and be proud that you can help your campground environment.
Text copyright 2011 Maren Morgan