Bringing your own firewood on campouts could become "luxury mass transit for the next big invasive insect and tree disease," according to Tamara Walkingstick, associate director of the Arkansas Forest Resource Center.
"So many of the invasive pests we already have in the United States came accidentally – hitchhiking in wood pallets or other wood shipments," she said.
Even if firewood doesn’t have holes, burrows sawdust or other abnormalities, don’t move it. "Insect eggs are the size of a pin and invasive fungi spores are microscopic, so it’s not save to assume that any firewood is OK to move," Walkingstick said. "It only takes one log to destroy a whole ecosystem."
Even if the plan is to burn all of the wood, "It’s still possible that a fallen flake of bark or an egg or spore could drop off in the woods or on your vehicle before the first match is struck, the hitchhiker still has a chance to set up home in a new location," she said.
While many are familiar with quarantines imposed due to red imported fire ant infestation, many might be surprised to learn that there are firewood restrictions.
To learn more about the campaign to keep log-based forestry pests from spreading, including a map of states with firewood movement restrictions, go online to www.dontmovefirewood.org/.
For more information about invasive species in Arkansas, visit http://arinvasives.org, www.uaex.edu, or contact the Lonoke County Extension Office at 501-676-3124.