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May 24, 2023

Protect Our Trees This Memorial Day

Memorial Day is upon us. In addition to remembering those who paid the ultimate price for our country, it signals the start of summer fun. Many will use this occasion to kick off the camping season. Others will stay home and fire up the grill for some backyard fun. Both traditionally end with a rip-roaring campfire. First let me wish you a happy and fun weekend. But, let me also caution you, on behalf of all trees, to obey the laws governing sourcing and transporting firewood.

For several years, insects and plant diseases have been sneaking into the country and infesting our forests. They include the emerald ash borer (EAB), Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), Dutch elm disease, winter moth, spongy (gypsy) moth and the latest – spotted lanternfly. Most arrived on our shores in wood packing material and have spread through hitchhiking rides as the cargo is transported to its destinations.

These “foreign” pests can attack our trees, especially native trees, with virtually no resistance. Our native trees haven’t built defenses like they have to fight our home-grown pests. The foreign pests also have no predators to feed on them.

The federal and state governments have quarantined areas of high pest concentration. They also have a nationwide ban on moving wood or wood products (unless certified pest-free) more than 50 miles from their source. That means don’t take wood from home to camp. Buy it at your destination. Sure, you might pay a bit more for it but think of the costs that will result from a wood shortage. You shouldn’t bring any leftover firewood home either. You could be bringing pests into your yard to attack and kill your trees. If you are buying wood for your backyard fire pit, be sure it was cut locally and not brought in by some unscrupulous dealer.

The easiest way to obey the law, be kind trees and still have unforgettable fun around the campfire is to buy your wood where you’re going to burn it. Besides obeying the law, burning only local wood can save thousands of trees. That includes those shading your favorite campsite and those shading your backyard.

While breaking down camp check your vehicles, especially the underside to be sure you don’t have any unwanted passengers. They may appear as insects or caterpillars or as egg masses. They like to hide so pay special attention to the undercarriage. Some egg cases are tan or gray masses that look like mud, others look like balls of cotton. The best action is to remove anything that looks like it could be an insect or its eggs, put them in a sealed zipper bag and leave it in the trash.

A lot of money is being spent trying to control these voracious pests. That includes tax dollars; money the destruction is causing on farm, orchard and woodlot owners; and money homeowners have to pay for treatment or removal of infested trees. The simple task of buying your firewood where you burn it can contribute to managing these pests.

Have a great, safe and flaming good time this Memorial Day weekend!