Build Your Fires with Locally Sourced Wood

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Build Your Fires with Locally Sourced Wood

At first glance, it may seem cost effective to pack up a few bundles of wood from your pile at home when you set off on a camping trip.

But, unfortunately, the few bucks you save in buying a pack at your destination campground may be heavily outweighed in environmental costs. The reality is: pests and disease can be hiding in any piece of firewood – even if they’re invisible to the naked eye. And, if that wood travels, so does anything it harbors – dormant or active. Meaning: you might just spread any number of problems into your beloved pristine forests where you escape to camp, hike, ski, bike and explore.

Even if you plan to burn the wood, it takes only a tiny infested chip of timber to infect an entire forest with an otherwise unknown pest or pathogen. As a result, it’s best only to burn fires from wood sourced near your burning location. So, when you camp, purchase your firewood from the campground manager or from a source as close to your campsite as possible. And, no, don’t go cutting down trees at your campsite to burn. Not only is frowned upon, damaging to the campground, and quite often illegal, but freshly cut or “green” wood is simply too wet to produce a good fire.

Too, importing firewood from afar to your home for burning can be equally problematic. Many homeowners don’t have trees at home to harvest for burning in their woodstoves or fireplaces, so they choose to order wood for delivery. And, unfortunately, it is impossible with the naked eye to know if that wood is infected with any number of problematic pests or diseases. So, as with camping firewood, anything brought in for use at home should be ordered from a local source. When you’re shopping, ask your firewood supplier to verify the kind of wood they’re supplying, the age of the wood, any known pests or diseases in the wood, and the location from which it was sourced.

Campfire

And keep in mind, many states have even instituted recommendations or in some cases legal restrictions around moving wood – especially firewood – to reduce the likelihood that contaminated wood will be moved into currently non-infested areas. So, remember, bringing in material from somewhere nearby can reduce the potential that you will initiate a huge problem to a new area – whether it’s your home garden or your favorite campsite. So, keep it local! And, if the firewood delivery service cannot verify the wood’s origin, then for the sake of your garden’s health and to keep it legal, you might want to source from someone who can.

Unsure about wood transportation restrictions in your area? Wondering what’s drilling holes or causing rot in your trees at home? Check dontmovefirewood.org for current information. In addition to detailing state-by-state restrictions, this site also provides a helpful photographic guide to identifying and understanding the known invasive pests and diseases that are currently decimating trees. It also provides details on how these problems not only impact the beauty of our surrounding environment, but also our climate and our economy as well.