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Article #65, November, 2002
By Bill Cook

Campfires and fireplaces are an important part of life in the northwoods.  Just watch the back ends of RVs and pickups arriving from downstate.

Itís unclear why people would haul firewood hundreds of miles when the forests of the Upper Peninsula cover over eight million acres, but they do. 

Moving firewood around, especially longer distances, is not as harmless as it used to be.  It can be one of the most common ways to spread exotic forest-damaging insects and diseases. 

The new emerald ash borer (EAB) is a good example.  This beetle comes from eastern Asia and has begun to kill thousands of ash trees in six counties of southeast Michigan.  Eradication and research efforts have already cost tens of millions of dollars. 

Moving ash firewood out of those counties to ďup northĒ locations poses a significant threat to our forests.  White, black, and green ash represent only four percent of the volume of Michigan forests, but locally they comprise large proportions of certain forest types. 

EAB is not the only tree health problem that can be distributed by firewood.  Consider gypsy moth, beech bark disease, oak wilt, and many others.  Exotic species currently threaten pines, hemlock, balsam fir, beech, oaks, and maples.  Thatís over half the forest volume in the U.P.!

Eastern forests have already been permanently altered by Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight, white pine blister rust, and butternut canker. 

In some cases, governments can regulate and quarantine transport of products by certain industries.  Loggers, nurseries, and Christmas tree growers are familiar with these restrictions.  However, there is little that governments can do about what citizens move around from region to region.  That takes understanding by everyone.

So, when you need firewood to make your northwoods experience complete, consider cutting or buying it locally.  Before you travel, also be certain to carefully check trailers, campers, boats, lawn furniture, and other equipment for egg masses and insect pupae.  If you insist on moving firewood, be sure to remove the bark first and burn everything you transport.  This way, our forests can continue to exist with a greater measure of safety. 

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Bill Cook is an MSU Extension forester providing educational programming for the entire Upper Peninsula. His office is located at the MSU Upper Peninsula Tree Improvement Center near Escanaba. The Center is the headquarters for three MSU Forestry properties in the U.P., with a combined area of about 8,000 acres. He can be reached at cookwi@msu.edu or 906-786-1575.

Prepared by Bill Cook, Forester/Biologist, Michigan State University Extension, 6005 J Road, Escanaba, MI  49829
906-786-1575 (voice),  906-786-9370 (fax),  e-mail:  cookwi@msu.edu

Use / reprinting of these articles is encouraged. Please notify Bill Cook.
By-line should read "Bill Cook, MSU Extension" Please use the article trailer whenever possible.

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