Moving Firewood Transports Tree-Killing Insects and Diseases
Many of Tennessee’s Parks and Campgrounds, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and all of Tennessee’s State Parks, have policies and rules on types of firewood that are allowed. Make sure to check ahead of your trip to understand the rules.
Don’t be tempted to get firewood from a remote location just because the wood looks clean and healthy. It could still harbor tiny insect eggs or microscopic fungal spores that will start a new and deadly infestation of forest pests.
Aged or seasoned wood is not considered safe to move, but certified heat-treated wood is a good option if you must transport firewood.
If you have already moved firewood, and you need to dispose of it safely, burn it soon and completely. Make sure to rake the storage area carefully and also burn the debris.
Tell your friends and others about the risks of moving firewood – no one wants to be responsible for starting a new pest infestation.
You can help keep Tennessee’s forests safe from damaging pests by asking a few simple questions before buying firewood.
Heat-treated firewood is always preferred as heat treating eliminates live pests which could be transported in or on firewood. If heat treated firewood is not available, and if allowed in the campground you are visiting, the next best alternative is firewood that has been cured or seasoned for at least 2 years, lowering the risk for some – although not all – pests.
Heat-treated wood is dried in a large oven (called a kiln) to a low moisture content killing insects and reducing risk of re-infestation. Such treatments, if conducted under USDA or state standards, are often labeled as “certified heat-treated” and represent the safest option when buying firewood. Also, dried wood lights easier, burns cleaner and with less smoke, and is lighter, making transport easier.
If the firewood has not been heat treated, be sure it was cut locally and don’t move it out of the area. Firewood that is not heat treated may have pests and diseases that should not be transported to new locations. If the wood is not from a local source, you should consider finding a new firewood vendor selling local or heat-treated wood.
Various regions in Tennessee are infested with invasive tree-killing insects and diseases that are at high risk for spread via firewood movement, including the emerald ash borer (ash), thousand cankers disease (walnut), and hemlock woolly adelgid (hemlock). Take the highest level of precaution in these areas when purchasing firewood by buying heat-treated wood, gathering wood on site when permitted, or, if neither of those options is available, purchase wood very local to the area. Buy or gather only what you need and burn it completely. Do not bring firewood home with you.
Visit ProtectTNForests.org for more information on forest health in Tennessee.
Contact us directly: Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry - Protect.TNForests@tn.gov