DEC, state parks urge campers to use local firewood

A family is stocked up with firewood as they camp in August 2008. (Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)

ALBANY — With the start of the 2021 camping season underway, The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation encourage campers to use local firewood and follow state firewood regulations to help prevent the spread of invasive species.

To protect New York’s forests, the agencies warn that firewood that has not been heat-treated should not be moved more than 50 miles from its source of origin.

Many people take campfire wood from their backyards or neighborhoods as they head out to a favorite camping spot, not realizing the wood may be hiding the eggs, larvae, spores, adults or even seeds of invasive threats. Hitching a ride on infested or infected firewood allows these pests to spread faster and farther than they could have on their own. A variety of invasive species can be transported on firewood, from wood boring beetles and defoliators to fungi and diseases.

New York state firewood regulations are as follows:

¯ Prohibit untreated firewood from being brought into New York from other states or countries.

¯ Prohibit untreated firewood grown in the state from being transported more than 50 miles from its source or origin.

¯ Require that people carry source, origin or treatment documentation whenever transporting firewood.

The origin of the wood is where it was grown. Anyone who cuts firewood for personal use is required to fill out a Self-Issued Certificate of Origin, available on DEC’s website. Producers of untreated firewood for sale must obtain wood grown within 50 miles of their business but may then declare the business as the source of the firewood. Examples of the source documentation are also available on DEC’s website. Consumers purchasing untreated firewood should make sure the source is clearly labeled to know how far the wood may be transported.

Firewood that meets the state’s heat treatment standard (160 degrees Fahrenheit core temperature for 75 minutes) needs to be labeled “New York-Approved Heat Treated/Pest Free” and can be moved without restriction. Heat-treating to this standard has been proven to kill insects and diseases that may be in firewood. Kiln-dried only means the wood was heated to dry it out so it will burn well, but it may not have reached 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 75 minutes. The DEC encourages purchasers of heat-treated firewood to look for the appropriate label indicating the wood meets the standard.

Quarantines for individual invasive species, such as oak wilt and the Asian longhorned beetle, may further restrict the transport of firewood in specific areas. As quarantines are lifted, expanded or tightened, the firewood regulation will continue to remain in place. For more information on firewood and invasive insects or to see DEC’s public service announcement, visit DEC’s website or contact DEC’s Forest Health Division at foresthealth@dec.ny.gov.


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