What Exactly IS a Firewood Quarantine?







“Quarantine” is a common word in the medical community, everyone understands what it means. When you see the word referring to a forest however, things get a little more ambiguous. People aren’t sure what they should or shouldn’t do, what parts of the state (or country) the quarantine affects, and why exactly it’s so important to follow. In essence, a forest or firewood quarantine aims to do the exact same thing a medical one does – prevent the spread of…something. In the case of firewood quarantines, that something is generally a forest pest or disease that agencies don’t want moving around the country creating new infestations and problems. Managing forest pests (which are most often invasive species) cost states millions of dollars, both in attempting to control the problem and in the loss of forest products and economic revenue.

Prevention is key with forest pests. It is much easier to prevent something we don’t want from being introduced than it is to deal with it once it’s here. That is why adhering to firewood quarantines is crucial. It may just be wood, but you may be keeping the campground, forest, or even backyard tree, that you love safe.

The Don’t Move Firewood campaign has a section on their website explaining what you need to know about quarantines. You can read it below.

And to stay on top of Michigan’s quarantines, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s website has a whole section on it.


11/21/2014 2:22 PM

What is a firewood quarantine?

Posted by: L. Greenwood

When most people hear the word “Quarantine,” they think of isolating a person that’s sick with some dangerous, contagious disease. When we talk about a forest pest related quarantine, the underlying concept is the same– it is just that instead of not letting people move around, we’re often talking about not moving firewood around.

Quarantines that relate to forest pests can work two basic ways – (1) preventing potentially infested materials, like firewood, from moving out of an known infested area, or (2) preventatively designating areas where no potentially infested materials could be brought in at all. The official term for potentially contagious or infested materials (things like firewood, nursery trees, brush waste) is “regulated items,” and each forest pests has a different list of appropriate regulated items, according to how its specific life cycle works.

(1) Much like a human quarantine for a contagious illness keeps the infected person from exposing new groups of people to whatever they’ve got, the first kind of a forest pest quarantine keeps people from moving regulated items out of infested places and into uninfested locations where they could infest new groups of trees- like uninfested campgrounds, forests, or neighborhoods. In some cases, more than just firewood can spread forest pests, so a quarantine might include not just firewood, but also other regulated items like nursery trees (like emerald ash borer), or outdoor furniture (like gypsy moth), or even outdoor potted plants (like imported fire ant.) One important caveat about quarantined areas is that while it might be technically legal to move materials from one side of a county or state to the other side, that action might still be spreading unwanted pests- so it is still not a good idea. Further, when it comes to forest pest quarantines, often the federal and state rules are different- and the more “strict” rules always apply first. For instance, even though both Western Massachusetts and the bottom half of New York are part of the large multistate quarantined region for emerald ash borer, due to New York State laws, it is still illegal for campers to bring untreated firewood from Western Massachusetts into New York State for their campfire.

(2) The second kind of quarantine is a more preventative measure, and it is called an External Quarantine. Instead of trying to keep current infestations in a confined area, an external quarantine is trying to preserve the health of the forests by blocking out any infested materials coming from elsewhere. For instance, Maine has an external quarantine that prohibits bringing any untreated firewood into the state of Maine, to protect their state’s very important timber resources from all possible forest pest threats.

For more information on the status of various forest pest quarantines in your area, please look up your state or province on our map.

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