Next time you purchase firewood for a crackling summer campfire or a cozy winter hearth, Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS) wants you to think twice about its origin.
Through the “Buy It Where You Burn It” campaign, OFS is encouraging Oklahomans to purchase local firewood to help prevent the spread of insects and diseases that can wreak havoc on forests.
“Firewood movement has been associated with the spread of many non-native forest pests. They can be moved hundreds of miles in a very short period of time,” says Brian Hall, staff forester at OFS. “Many different species, including the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle, Gypsy Moth and Asian Longhorn Beetle, can be transported in just one piece of firewood.” And it’s not an easy problem to spot. Many people are unaware that they are transporting invasive pests, because they chose a healthy-looking piece of firewood.
Of those several invasive species of pests, the Emerald Ash Borer poses the largest threat to Oklahoma. The pest has already destroyed millions of ash trees across the nation, and major infestations have occurred in Colorado, Kansas and Missouri.
Camping and hunting are some of the main activities where firewood is usually moved, which presents a major risk and possible avenue of bringing the pest to Oklahoma.
To help spread the word, Hall says OFS has collaborated with 13 southern states for a mass outreach of the “Buy It Where You Burn It” campaign over the next three years. “Teaming up with other states will help us make significant gains in reaching the target audience,” he says. They hope to deliver the campaign during peak firewood transportation seasons (spring, summer and fall), and plan to partner with other organizations to help get the word out.
How can you help keep Oklahoma’s trees healthy? Start by making the promise not to move firewood. Buy it locally, near where you plan to burn it. OFS considers local firewood to be cut within 50 miles of where it will be burned. If you’ve already moved firewood, take action to burn it quickly and completely, making sure all twigs, leaves and bark are burned as well.
For more information and tips on preserving Oklahoma’s forests, visit forestry.ok.gov.