Firewood Q&A

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Two children roast marshmallows over a campfire.
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Tree-killing insects and diseases can hitchhike in firewood, moving much farther with you in a single weekend than they could in years on their own. Once in a new location, these invasive pests can start new infestations that destroy forests, decrease property values, and become costly to manage.

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The current firewood quarantine restricts the movement of hardwood firewood out of Missouri. Firewood is free to move within the state, but officials strongly recommend not moving firewood more than 50 miles from where it was harvested to reduce the risk of spreading invasive pests.

Contact the US Department of Agriculture APHIS PPQ office at (573) 893-6833 for further details of other regulated articles.

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It’s not a good idea to move firewood, even if it appears to be free of pests. Many invasive pests, including emerald ash borer, develop under the bark and are easily moved in firewood. Tiny insect eggs or microscopic fungal spores may be attached to bark cracks and crevices, waiting to be transported to a new location.

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It’s true that oak firewood doesn’t contain emerald ash borer, but that doesn’t mean other invasive forest pests can’t be transported in oak firewood. For example, the tree-killing fungal disease oak wilt can be brought to new locations on oak firewood. Your oak firewood may harbor pests that we don’t even know are in Missouri, and you could be inadvertently spreading these pests to other oak forests in our state. It’s just not worth the risk.

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No. Firewood may harbor pests for long periods of time, even when the wood is seasoned and dry. Emerald ash borer, for example, has been known to emerge from ash firewood for at least two years after harvest.

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Even if you plan to burn all of your firewood over a couple days, it’s still not a good idea to bring wood from more than 50 miles away. Spring and summer are the most popular seasons for camping, and they are the riskiest times for transporting firewood from a pest perspective. Most pests are actively emerging from wood during the warm months, and moving firewood — even for just a few short days — can easily spread these tree killers to new locations.

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Have a bonfire, roast some marshmallows, and burn the wood completely upon arriving at your campsite. Don’t give pests time to leave your firewood and find new trees to infest!

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The best option is to leave it at the campsite for the next camper or share it with someone staying in that campground.

Don’t take the wood home with you and risk bringing invasive forest pests to your neighborhood.

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Packaged, heat-treated firewood labeled with the USDA shield is safe to move and meets federal quarantine requirements. Any pests in heat-treated wood are killed during the heat treatment process, when internal temperatures of the wood are required to reach 140°F for 60 minutes.

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Most chain home improvement stores sell packaged, heat-treated wood, as well as many gas stations across Missouri. Heat-treated wood is pest-free but it can be expensive.

Firewood harvested and purchased near your campground likely won’t be heat treated, but it should be more affordable and still present a low risk of spreading pests.