Be Smart About Moving Wood No Matter Where You Live- Prevent the Introduction of Invasive Pests
Much effort has been spent communicating the risks of moving pests like emerald ash borer (EAB) in infested firewood as it pertains to Boulder County and the EAB quarantine in effect there. Quarantines are enacted to slow down the spread of invasive pests like EAB and to keep un-infested areas free of these devastating pests as long as possible. But what about those who do not live in an area under a pest quarantine?
The lack of quarantine doesn’t make moving pest infested wood from one place to another a wise thing to do. Rather, all of us, regardless of where we live and what pests are likely to be in the trees around us should become aware about pest prevention and learn to be smart about moving wood.
Invasive species like EAB are one of the greatest concerns for Colorado urban forests. An organism is considered invasive if it is not native to an ecosystem and it is likely to cause harm to the environment, economy or public health. Pests like EAB and other boring insects like Asian longhorned beetle fit the definition of invasive pests. Both of these insects are not native to North America and they cause great environmental and economic harm on this continent. The mountain pine beetle (MPB), on the other hand, is an example of a pest that is not considered invasive in Colorado. MPB is native to the Western US. Ponderosa and lodgepole pines, while succumbing in epidemic numbers during MPB population upswings, do have resistance to the organism in the trees’ native range. But, MPB could be considered a potential invasive threat to pines in urban and other forest ecosystems where the insect is not known to occur naturally. Why does this matter? Because mountain pine beetle, emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle and a large number of other forests pests all develop in firewood and remain unseen for long periods of time. Firewood becomes the vehicle for long distance movement. If someone cuts down a pine tree in Colorado infested with MPB and takes the firewood back home to their property on the Front Range of Colorado or to a location in another state where the insect is not indigenous the risk is high that pine trees in that person’s yard or a native forest nearby may now become infested with MPB.
All of us need to be smart about moving wood from dead or pest infested trees. Firewood harbors numerous insects and pathogens that might be devastating to trees far away. Be smart about the spread of invasive pests and use firewood locally, try not to transport wood long distances unless it has been debarked or heat treated. When purchasing firewood, consumers have choices. The current recommendation is to buy and use local firewood when possible. If local firewood is unavailable, treated firewood is the next best option to minimize the risk of transporting pests.
Firewood of hardwood trees located in Boulder County cannot leave the quarantine area by law because of the very high risk of ash being infested with EAB and the quarantine in effect. The rest of the state can be more lax about moving wood, but we shouldn’t; there is risk of pest movement within all wood from all locations.