October is Firewood Awareness Month, making fall the perfect time to learn about keeping Wisconsin’s trees safe from invasive pests that threaten our forests, parks and backyards. During Firewood Awareness Month, the Department of Natural Resources reminds residents and visitors to think about how their firewood choices can help protect the places they love.
Whether warming up around a bonfire at deer camp or inside curled up next to the fireplace, chilly weather calls for a wood fire to gather around. Avoid bringing home tree-killing pests or diseases by buying local, kiln-dried or heat-treated firewood, and gathering the firewood near where you will burn it.
By using local firewood, you avoid moving pests to new places. If you do not know where to get local firewood, check Firewood Scout for a list of vendors near your home, cabin or camping destination. Ask vendors whether they sell certified firewood, which is heat-treated, and can be used anywhere in the state, or if they have aged or dried it in some other way.
“Firewood Scout is an excellent outreach tool that raises awareness of invasive species issues while also empowering people with the necessary information to be part of the solution. That is a recipe for success,” said Andrea Diss-Torrance, DNR Invasive Insects Program Coordinator.
If you cannot find a certified firewood vendor, the next best options are locally-sourced kiln-dried firewood or firewood that has been aged for at least two years. Kiln-dried and aged firewood are so dry that tree-killing pests cannot survive in it. Dry firewood is also lighter to carry, produces the most heat and the least smoke. When gathering firewood, look for wood that has loose bark – a sign that the wood is bone dry. Kiln-dried firewood may not have loose bark, but it is still dry enough to be free of pests and diseases.
By taking these precautions, you can minimize the risk of spreading emerald ash borer, oak wilt or other invasive pests and diseases into your favorite outdoor spots. For more information on firewood allowed into state campgrounds and quarantines that affect the legal movement of firewood, visit the DNR firewood page. Learn where you can collect firewood on state lands here.