Frequently Asked Questions for Firewood Regulation and 2012 Revision
- Firewood Regulation - On March 18, 2009 a regulation was enacted to protect our forests from destructive invasive species. This regulation was revised on July 3, 2012 to clarify the requirements for producers, dealers and purchasers. If you have any questions regarding this regulation, that are not answered below, please call our toll free number at 1-866-640-0652 or e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A. Do the revised regulations change any of the requirements imposed by the 2009 regulation?
No. All the 2009 requirements and restrictions still apply:
- No untreated firewood may be imported into New York State.
- Firewood producers and dealers must provide "source documentation" for their firewood to their customers.
- Persons who possess untreated firewood on state lands, must have documentation of the firewood's source.
- Untreated firewood may not be moved more than 50 miles from its source.
- Firewood may only be imported into NYS, or moved more than 50 miles from its source within NYS, if it has been treated (heated to at 160 F for 75 minutes) and labeled as "New York Approved Treated Firewood/Pest-Free" by the producer.
- Persons moving untreated firewood for their own use (not for sale), must have a "Self-issued Certificate of Origin" (PDF, 14.9 kb) when transporting the firewood.
B. What do the changes to the "firewood" definition mean?
The firewood definition was expanded to clarify several points, specifically:
- kiln-dried (KD) lumber or pieces/scraps of KD lumber are NOT regulated as "firewood".
- logs being transported to sawmills and other manufacturing facilities for use in their operations are not regulated as "firewood".
C. Have any of the "prohibitions" changed?
No. The "Prohibition subsection, 192.5 (b) has been revised to consolidate and clarify the prohibitions on importing untreated firewood, movement of untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source or origin and the labeling and documentation requirements for untreated and treated firewood.
D. What is the difference between "Source" and "Origin", as used in the revised regulation?
Both are designations of where the firewood (or logs made into firewood) was grown. "Source" is used in the documentation required of firewood producers and dealers for firewood that is sold commercially. "Origin" is to be used when persons are moving firewood for personal use, on the "Self-issued Certificate of Origin" (PDF, 14.9 kb) which replaces the "Self-issued C-certificate of Source".
E. Are firewood users required to retain source documentation for firewood they have purchased for storage and use at their homes?
No. A main purpose of this revision was to clarify that firewood users are not required to retain source documentation once their untreated firewood is at their home or place of use. The only exception to this is if untreated firewood is being brought onto DEC or State Parks lands. In that case, source or origin documentation, or a treatment label must be retained with the firewood.
F. Have the penalties changed?
No. The new enforcement subsection, 192.5 (f) simply states and clarifies the current penalty provisions and enforcement options available to DEC Law Enforcement staff under the Environmental Conservation Law section 9-1303. This includes the option of directing non-compliant firewood found in transport or possession be returned to its source, or confiscated and destroyed.
G. What is the purpose of "Section 192.6 Quarantine Orders"?
This Section was added to clarify and articulate the Department's authority, pursuant to ECL section 9-1303, to enforce the provisions of any quarantine order issued by the Department.
1. Why is DEC regulating firewood?
- To protect New York's forests and trees, which is our mission.
- New York's rural and urban forests are increasingly threatened by a host of invasive, exotic tree insects and diseases, many of which are unstoppable killers.
- Over the past 10-15 years, exotic insects like Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer and hemlock wooly adelgid have killed millions of trees in cities and woodlots from Long Island, New York to upper Michigan.
- Other invasives such as oak wilt, sudden oak death, Sirex wood wasp, brown spruce longhorned beetle are present or of concern.
- Virtually no native tree species in New York are free from potential attack by one or more invasive exotic insect or disease.
- Costs to Federal, State and local budgets have exceeded $100 million for eradication efforts, tree removals and disposal and replacement of city street trees.
- Many invasive tree and forest pests are difficult, to impossible, to detect early enough in their infestation to be able to eliminate them or control their spread.
- History has shown that many invasive forest pests have been spread long distances, inadvertently assisted by humans, through our movement of plants and wood not known to be infested.
- Firewood has been shown to be especially troublesome, as it is frequently moved long-distance by campers and others, with new discoveries of invasive pest infestation subsequently showing up in and around campgrounds.
- In order to protect our State's trees and forests, it is essential we attempt to prevent, delay and minimize the introduction of invasive, exotic forest pests, and their spread, by all means possible.
- A direct step we can take is to limit the importation and movement of firewood, a high-risk forest pest host.
- Many other States (Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin), Federal Agencies (US Forest Service, National Park Service, USDA APHIS), and the Canadian government have already imposed some form of regulations on the importation and movement of firewood to their jurisdictions.
- We have considered all these approaches, and developed restrictions on the importation and movement of untreated firewood, source-labeling requirements and established treatment standards pursuant to accepted international and scientific protocols that we believe will significantly reduce the risk of introduction and spread of invasive forest pests into and within New York State.
2. What species of firewood are regulated?
All species of trees that are used as firewood are regulated since dangerous, invasive insects and diseases can be found in, or on, almost every native New York tree species. We are focusing on firewood, as the vector, or means by which pests are moved, rather than addressing individual pests one at a time.
3. What pests are you worried about?
There are many invasive, exotic forest insects and diseases of concern to New York. Almost every native New York trees species is susceptible to attack by one or more exotic pest. Some of these insects and diseases are already known to be present in parts of New York, some are threatening us from other states or regions, and still others have yet to find their way to this country (that we know of). Some pests and their hosts of particular concern include:
- Asian longhorned beetle - maples, birches, ash, sycamore, poplar, willow, elm, hackberry, mountain ash, horsechestnut
- Emerald ash borer - all ash species (white, black, green)
- Sirex woodwasp - pines (Scots, red, white, Austrian, pitch)
- Hemlock wooly adelgid - hemlock
- Asian gypsy moth - over 500 hosts including oak, basswood, birch, poplar, alder, willow, larch, hemlock, pine, and spruce
- Light brown apple moth - apple, oaks, pines, poplars, walnut
- Brown spruce longhorned beetle - spruces
- Oak wilt - oaks, especially red oak
4. What is your definition of "Source" for firewood, in the labeling requirements?
"Source" is defined as the village, town or city, which an untreated firewood producer or dealer designates, declaring that the untreated firewood firewood all was produced from trees grown within 50-miles of that named location.
5. What are you calling "firewood"?
- For the purposes of these regulations, "firewood" is defined to be " all wood of any species, cut or not cut, split or not split, regardless of length which is (a) in a form and size appropriate for use as a fuel, or (b) which is destined for use as fuel."
- log-length material is not automatically covered under this regulation, unless it is used to produce firewood (that is, 'cut and split, or not split, into a form and size appropriate for use as fuel")
- logs being transported for industrial uses are NOT considered "firewood" under this regulation This specifically refers to:
- pulp and/or paper mills,
- wood pellet manufacturing facilities,
- wood biomass-using refineries or power plants,
- re-constituted wood or wood composite product manufacturing plants,
- facilities producing treated firewood.
6. Is the interstate or intra-state movement of "logs" restricted or affected under this firewood regulation?
- Only if the logs are intended to be used to produce untreated firewood.
- Logs destined to be used for lumber, poles, pallets, pulp manufacture or biomass energy are not affected by this firewood regulation.
- Log movement may, however, be regulated by other existing State or Federal quarantines such as those that address Emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, gypsy moth and pine shoot beetle. Future quarantines, or expansions of quarantines, may be imposed in response to these or new pests, such as sirex, sudden oak death, or others.
7. Why did you select 50 miles as the sourcing and movement limit for "New York-Sourced Firewood"?
- 50 miles was selected as the source radius because it was felt this was a reasonable distance within which to limit firewood movement, and was consistent with existing local distribution patterns.
- A 50-mile radius circle, 100 miles in diameter equals 7,854 square miles or 5,026,560 acres. This size area would cover almost the entire Adirondack Park, or all of western New York from Dunkirk to Bath and Lake Erie to the Pennsylvania border. We feel this sourcing and distribution area for firewood producers should be large enough to have minimal impact on New York firewood businesses.
- Firewood is a relatively low-value commodity, and the increasing costs of fuel make trucking beyond 50 miles prohibitive in most cases anyway.
- Also, our feeling was that any insect pests within a 50-mile radius circle would probably be present across that entire area, but may not be found outside it, as yet. This restriction would help protect other regions of New York State, say the Adirondacks or Catskills, from undetected infestations in western New York or on Long island, for example.
8. How do you define or determine 50-miles?
The 50-mile limit is defined as meaning "a 50-mile linear distance determined by using the scale-bar on a New York State road map, atlas or gazetteer, from the point identified by the producer as the declared and labeled source of the firewood in question." The idea is to use a simple point as the radius center, rather than trying to determine a street address or GPS location for every tree.
9. Is "kiln-drying" an acceptable treatment?
- Kiln-drying can be an acceptable technique to meet the heat treatment standard, provided the specified time and temperature requirements are met during the process, 71 degrees Centigrade (160 degrees Fahrenheit) at the core for 75 minutes.
- "Kiln-drying" alone, is not a standard, as the practice is not regulated and only has a negotiated meaning between the producer and consumer. Traditionally, kiln drying is used to reduce the moisture content of wood to meet specific end-use requirements, such as furniture production. The process does not necessarily raise the internal temperature of wood in the kiln to a temperature adequate to kill pests, or hold it there long enough to be effective for that goal.
10. Are other States doing this too?
Many other States and jurisdictions have imposed regulations on the movement and/or importation of firewood, for the same purposes we have in proposing our regulations. Firewood regulations, in various forms, currently exist in Pennsylvania, Vermont, Maine, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Maryland. Many other States are considering similar actions and have outreach and awareness campaigns asking users to not move firewood.
11. What is the Federal government doing?
- USDA APHIS has several different quarantines in place, covering areas of New York as well as other states, that restrict the movement of firewood as well as logs, lumber, wood products and nursery stock of certain tree species as part of various pest quarantines. USDA APHIS' authority to impose quarantine restrictions concerning treatment and movement of firewood (a commodity) are only imposed in direct conjunction with a specific pest species regulatory action. The Department is trying to be proactive and recognize that a wide variety of invasive, exotic forest pests and diseases may be transported to new areas on many different species of wood used as firewood.
- The heat treating standard we are applying for imported firewood is consistent with USDA APHIS Asian longhorned beetle quarantine standards and international trade standards for firewood and solid wood packaging materials.
12. What about Canada?
The Canadian government has had a ban in effect for several years on the import of any firewood into that country that has not been heat-treated to their specifications.
13. Isn't this a violation of the Federal Interstate Commerce Clause affecting trade and business between States?
DEC's Legal Office has looked into the Commerce Clause provisions and determined that case law supports State's rights to protect themselves through regulations that incidentally affect interstate trade if:
- there is a legitimate public purpose,
- the purpose cannot be served as well by available non-discriminatory means,
- any incidental burden on interstate commerce is not excessive in relation to the local benefits and,
- it is applied even-handedly.
See: Maine v. Taylor, 477 U.S. 131, 138 (1986)
14. What's the big deal? What's the risk?
- Firewood has the potential to spread many destructive, invasive, exotic agents, both known and, as yet, unknown. Confirmed threats to New York State include: emerald ash borer, sirex woodwasp), Asian long-horned beetle, European gypsy moth, Asian gypsy moth, and a number of other wood boring or defoliating insects, plus decay and wood-stain fungi, as well as the pathogens that cause Dutch elm disease, oak wilt, and sudden oak death.
- Firewood product is often stored, unused, for long periods of time, and is handled by persons generally not trained to look for or notice invasive pest signs. Once established in new areas, invasive, exotic forest pests can quickly kill trees in forests, parks, communities and campgrounds.
- For example, USDA APHIS estimates that over 30 million ash trees have already been killed by the Emerald ash borer in Michigan, alone, with additional millions dead or dying in the Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Ontario, Canada. In urban settings, this presents liability concerns and may require significant expenditures. Recent research projects the costs to communities to deal with municipal ash trees killed by EAB will exceed $10 Billion for removal and disposal. It will cost the City of Ann Arbor, Michigan, population 99,000, over $4.3 million dollars to remove over 10,000 dead and dying ash trees (7,500 street trees alone) that pose hazards to residents and property, and expose the city to millions more in liability. Ann Arbor, a community that proudly calls itself "Tree Town", estimates over an additional $2 billion will be needed to restore street trees and their urban forest. The percentage of ash in New York communities and urban forests can be upwards of 20%, as ash trees were often planted to replace American elms that were killed by another invasive exotic pest problem, Dutch elm disease. At this time, infestation of an area by emerald ash borer is essentially a death sentence for all ash, as little has been found to protect trees from lethal attack.
- In rural areas, impacts may include the loss of entire tree species causing serious ecological impacts. There are an estimated 750 million ash trees in New York State (excluding the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve) and ash constitutes 7% of all trees in our forests. In addition to the ecological losses, landowners and wood-using industries face millions of dollars in current and future economic losses as ash is a valuable specie for lumber, flooring, cabinets, pallets and Major League baseball bats.
- One of the leading Major League Baseball bat manufacturers, Rawlings Adirondack, is based in Dolgeville, New York. They use native white ash for bats used by professional players and have great concerns over the future of their business and industry.
- Similarly, Asian longhorned beetle, an invasive exotic already found in New York City and on Long Island, could wreak havoc across upstate New York forests and communities as this pest lists most maple species among its preferred hosts. New York's lumber, maple syrup and tourism industries all depend heavily on sugar maple - our State tree - which is at risk.
- The best preventative and mitigation measures for these threats include restriction on importation into the State, movement of firewood within the State, and encouraging use of "local" firewood sources, or, alternatively, verified, "clean" firewood.
- The purpose of this rule is to reduce the risk of introduction and spread of invasive insects and diseases of trees by preventing untreated firewood from entering New York State and restricting the movement, within the State, of firewood that originates in New York State.
15. Why isn't log transport to mills and other wood-using industries also regulated?
- Log transport to wood-using industries is often already regulated by existing Federal quarantines for certain pests such as Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer, gypsy moth or pine shoot beetle.
- In most cases, the manufacturing processes involved - debarking, sawing, kiln-drying, chipping, pulping, etc. - are adequate to eliminate pests should they be carried on the logs
- Logs manufactured into other products typically undergo inspection by persons familiar with insect pests, who would be more likely to recognize these problems should they be found and take appropriate steps to eliminate the source
16. Can I still transport firewood from my own woodlot or camp to my home, or from my home to my own camp or property, for my personal use?
- Transport of firewood from one property poses the same risks, regardless of ownership or whether the firewood is for sale or personal use. Firewood from that dead tree in your yard could carry invasive pests up to your camp, where they could emerge and become established, starting a new infestation killing more trees there. Similarly, firewood from your camp "up north" may harbor pests that could emerge at home and start killing trees in your yard or community.
- Under the regulation, any transport of untreated firewood beyond 50 miles from its (New York State) source is prohibited. Importation of any untreated firewood from outside New York State is also prohibited.
- Transport of untreated firewood for personal use (not for sale), less than 50-miles from its New York source, is allowed provided the owner/transporter has a "Self-Issued Certificate of Origin (100 kb pdf)" declaring where in New York the firewood came from.
- Persons who cut firewood on their own property, for their own use on that same property, are not required to have a "Self-issued Certificate of Origin" (PDF, 14.9 kb).
17. Is "seasoned" firewood okay?
- Unfortunately, seasoning firewood - storing it cut and piled and letting it air-dry for a period of time - is not a proven way to eliminate potential invasive insects or diseases.
- Seasoning, or air-drying typically only reduces the moisture content of the firewood to around 19% (from 50% or more when fresh-cut or green). Reducing moisture content alone is not an adequate treatment method to control invasive insects and/or diseases.
- Scientific studies have shown that some invasive, exotic insects can survive in untreated, cut trees and firewood for over two years and still emerge to infest surrounding forests.
- It's also impossible to determine how long firewood has been "seasoned" as there's no real way to measure or verify.
18. What are the penalties for violations?
- Under the Environmental Conservation Law, violations of these regulations are subject to a $250 fine, plus a $100 civil penalty and up to 15 days in jail.
- Untreated firewood found being moved in violation of this regulation may be ordered returned to its source, or confiscated and destroyed by law enforcement officers.
- The real "penalties", however, for failure to comply with these regulations may be far more severe:
- death of trees in a favorite campground
- loss of street trees in communities
- death of a prized old tree in your front yard
- millions of dollars required to remove infested or dead trees from campgrounds, yards, parks, playgrounds and community streets
- millions of dollars in liability exposure for public and private property owners from dead and dying trees
- millions of dollars in unplanned replacement costs to restore urban trees
- loss of trees and forest habitats that are critical to many species of wildlife, including some rare, threatened and endangered species
- untold ecological impacts from the loss of entire species (akin to the loss of American chestnut or American elm)
19. Who will be responsible for enforcement?
Any law enforcement officer could enforce this regulation. This includes NYSDEC Environmental Conservation Officers, NYSDEC Forest Rangers, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Park Police, NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets Horticultural Inspectors, and any other State, County or Local police officer.
20. Are bulk firewood sales covered by this regulation? If so, what are the requirements?
- All firewood sales are covered by this regulation.
- Firewood producers or dealers who sell untreated firewood in bulk quantities are required to provide the purchaser with documentation - a statement on the invoice, bill of sale or lading, or receipt - which identifies the firewood's source (which also must be wholly within New York State).
- Dealers of bulk quantities of firewood labeled "New York Approved Treated Firewood/Pest Free" shall receive, from the firewood producer, the producer's documentation of treatment, in accordance with the requirements. That documentation - a statement to that affect - may be included on a bill of sale or lading, purchase receipt or invoice. A copy of this shall be provided to the consumer.
21. How will customers know the source of firewood they buy?
- Producers will be required to identify the source of their firewood and provide that information to dealers, who will be required to provide it to customers.
- The firewood producer's source certification shall indicate the producer's name, legal address and the village, town or city of the business (the firewood's designated source) on a label, bill of sale or lading, purchase receipt or invoice accompanying such firewood.
22. Is firewood transport through New York to another state regulated by New York State's firewood regulation?
Yes. The regulation specifically prohibits the import of untreated firewood into New York State. Treated firewood may be brought into New York State or may be transported through the state without restriction. If you have questions about bringing firewood into any other state from New York, you should contact their Department of Agriculture or State Forestry Office to check on their state's regulations or restrictions.
23. Are wood pellets, bark or mulch covered under this regulation?
No. Wood pellets, bark and mulch are not covered under this regulation. The manufacturing processes involved in producing these commodities (chipping, grinding and/or compressing) are deemed adequate to eliminate any invasive pest that may be in or on the wood. In most invasive forest pest quarantine situations, chipping infested, or host material is an accepted disposal method.
24. Are Christmas trees covered by this regulation?
No. Christmas trees are not covered under this regulation. Christmas trees have not been found to be a method of transport for these invasive pests and are not considered a risk for the spread of these destructive species.
If you have any additional questions regarding these regulations, please call toll free: 1-866-640-0652.