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Is out-of-state firewood a threat to Colorado trees?

Trees? Or toothpicks?

Beetle-killed trees near Frisco, Colorado.

State Forest Service warns against transporting firewood

Staff Report

FRISCO — It may be a little like the Dutch boy putting his finger in the leaky dike, but Colorado Forest Service officials are warning that transporting firewood from place to place may increase the spread of invasive tree-killing bugs.

Moving firewood even short distances increases the risk to Colorado’s native forests and urban trees. With the 2013 detection of the highly destructive emerald ash borer in the City of Boulder, and ongoing bark beetle epidemics in the state’s mountain forests, the Colorado State Forest Service wants to be sure people are aware of the risks associated with moving firewood.

The transportation of firewood is a common cause for the accidental introduction of harmful tree insects and diseases to new areas. Insects, fungi and diseases can hitch a ride on cut wood – from both living and dead trees – and are often hidden away under the bark.

“It has never been a good practice to transport firewood, but with the recent discovery of emerald ash borer in Boulder, it’s critical that residents and visitors obtain firewood where they plan to burn it,” said Keith Wood, CSFS community forestry program manager.

The CSFS offers the following firewood tips to help Coloradans protect their trees and forests:

• Always try to burn firewood at the location where you buy or cut it. Leave whatever wood you don’t burn behind.
• Don’t ever bring wood into Colorado from other states, or vice-versa. Also, ask firewood dealers questions about the origin of the wood prior to purchase.
• If using firewood bundles for camping, buy from a local vendor. The best option is wood labeled with the Colorado Forest Products logo; at least 50 percent of this wood is certified to be from Colorado forests, and more than 65 vendors around the state participate in this program.
• Learn to identify the symptoms of common pests in the type of wood you plan to burn.
• Know Colorado’s quarantine rules and regulations, including those related to EAB, before transporting any wood products.

For more information about insects and disease that threaten Colorado trees, see the 2013 Colorado Forest Insect and Disease Update at http://csfs.colostate.edu/pdfs/2013FHR-InsectDiseaseUpdate.pdf. Additional tips on how to prevent the spread of EAB in Colorado are available at www.eabcolorado.com.

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