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Campfires and Firewood: Emerald Ash Borers Raise Concerns for Vacation Camping

Updated on May 27, 2014

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.

From the brochure: What is the Emerald Ash Borer?
From the brochure: What is the Emerald Ash Borer? | Source

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:

PA (

OH (

IL (

MO (

MI (

MN (

WI (

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 ( 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


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    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      9 years ago from Pennsylvania

      50 Caliber: Your comment is happily acknowledged in the spirit in which it is offered!

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      9 years ago from Arizona

      Oh how I disdain rules upon rules upon even more rules, while this rule carries a dab of truth to the bell it rings, the critter in question is prone to bore into, Ash. I tote hard woods like red oak, white oak, desert iron wood and mesquite and have every intention of carrying these self obtained bundles of wood wrapped in shrink wrap. shrunk and sealed. Any critter that may or may not be in those woods I will kill by fire. I will be using them in Brown County Indiana with full disregard for the fears of stump huggers. I can assure that there will exist no "holes bored" by any critter and with certainty that the wood will cause no harm to any living tree, just to the companies who have lobbied that rules be placed to insure they remain profitable and "kick back, part of those profits to said lobbyists so they as well might choke the poor who stay a week or more at the cheapest manor of entertaining their family while teaching them the skill sets of staying alive through the coming financial crash. In my opinion we are facing a boring type insect that will eat any paper you might have of any value, the Demo beetle and the republa beetle. Their infiltration will insure that a good number will depend on many types of wood to live for both heating and cooking and finding any and all sizable bugs will be key to daily protein in their diets and the rotten beetle infested wood will be crumbled and split apart to add them to the jar that will be cooked for dinner. hehehe,

      I hope you see the humor in all this as much as I ment it to be.

      You have written a fine article in regard to using "common sense" when it comes to things to do to save our over used world from it's self, I voted it up as useful and interesting and spreading knowledge that will keep folks from hauling camping necessities that may be required to be confiscated and disposed of by the authorities in their home fireplaces, much like the factory sealed bottles of shampoo and conditioners confiscated by TSA at airports across the country, that after first pick gets sent to accommodations for the needy,

      Respectfully tongue in cheek, 50 Caliber

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      9 years ago from Pennsylvania

      @Dolores Monet - yes, critters look for every shelter they can find.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      9 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Actually it seems like a bad idea to cart in any wood from another area, anytime you go camping. Who knows what nasty critters lurk in old wood?

    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      10 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Yes - losing a species of trees would be awful. I don't know which states have stamped approved firewood for sale other than Indiana. Anyone planning a camping trip would probably be wise to contact the specific camp to learn what the rules are there.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Dear Maren,

      I've been hearing and reading about the emerald ash borer, but didn't know about the ability to obtain firewood under controlled USDA restrictions. Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention, otherwise we might have another Chestnut Blight or Dutch Elm disease.



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