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Fifty-mile rule for firewood halts stowaway pests

Live more than an hour away from your camping spot? Cross firewood off the packing list.

To help prevent the spread of forest pests, firewood from more than 50 miles or from out-of-state needs to stay put, according to officials at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

"Many invasive, destructive pests and diseases can travel on firewood," says Andrea Diss-Torrance, DNR forest health specialist. "Unsuspecting campers can introduce these pests to the places and trees they enjoy."

People who camp on state-managed land will need to buy firewood at the campground or from nearby Wisconsin firewood dealers who sell wood cut from less than 50 miles from the campground and within Wisconsin.

All other firewood will be confiscated upon entry to the park and destroyed.

Peter Biermeier of Wisconsin State Parks and Recreation, says "State parks have made great improvements in the quality of their firewood and have kept prices reasonable."

All of the profits made by the friends groups who sell firewood are used to enhance park programs, shelter buildings and other services.

"Spring is the season when many forest pests such as gypsy moth hatch and begin feeding on our trees," says Diss-Torrance. "More importantly, it is the time when pests and diseases such as the emerald ash borer and oak wilt hitch a ride on firewood and are introduced to new areas."

Once this happens, the effects can be devastating to the area's forests and urban trees.

"The general rule to remember is that once you are within one hour's drive of your park destination you can start looking for firewood dealers to supply your campfire fuel," says Biermeier.

This year, 20,000 people who have already reserved a campsite on DNR property, and 46,000 walk-in campers from 2007 have been mailed a post card reminding them of the firewood rule.

Firewood information is also provided twice during the reservation process.

Due to the devastation caused in other states by emerald ash borer, federal quarantines have been placed on firewood from Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. Individuals moving firewood out of these states are subject to federal fines of up to $1,000.

For information on the Emerald Ash Borer, visit (exit DNR).

More about Wisconsin's firewood rule is available on the DNR Web site or by calling 877.303.9663.