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Firewood and Invasive Pests

Protect Our Trees! - Use Local Firewood

Moving untreated firewood is one of the main ways invasive pests and diseases spread to new areas. Many people take wood from their properties as they head out to camp, hunt, etc., but most don't realize their wood may be hiding the eggs, larvae, spores, adults, or even seeds of invasive threats. Transporting infested firewood allows invasives to spread further and faster than they would have on their own. In 2009, a regulation (leaves DEC website) was enacted to prevent this accidental and often long-distance spread by limiting the transport of firewood.

The New York State Firewood Regulation

Van with firewood strapped to the back driving on road
Vehicle transporting firewood that could contain
tree-killing invasive pests

The regulation pertains to all species of wood, cut or not cut, split or not split, that is destined for use as fuel. Logs would only be subject to the regulation if their intended use is as firewood.

  • Untreated firewood may not be imported into NY from any other state or country.
  • Untreated firewood grown in NY may not be transported more than 50 miles (linear distance) from its source or origin unless it has been heat-treated to 71° C (160° F) for 75 minutes.
  • When transporting firewood, the following documentation is required:
    • If transporting untreated firewood cut for personal use (i.e. not for sale) you must fill out a Self-Issued Certificate of Origin (PDF).
    • If purchasing and transporting untreated firewood, it must have a receipt or label that identifies the firewood source. NOTE! Source is sometimes, but not always, the same as where it was purchased. Consumers need to use the source to determine how far the firewood may be transported.
    • If purchasing and transporting heat-treated firewood, it must have a receipt or label that says, "New York Approved Heat-Treated Firewood/Pest Free". This is the producers' declaration that the firewood meets New York's heat-treatment requirements. Most "kiln-drying" processes meet the standard, but not all, so it is important to look for the appropriate label. Heat-treated firewood may be moved unrestricted.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why regulate firewood?

Firewood is frequently moved long-distances by people and, as seen with emerald ash borer in Michigan, new infestations are often found in and around campgrounds. Although forest pests can move in any infested wood materials, logs being transported to wood-using industries are often put through manufacturing processes (debarking, sawing, kiln-drying, chipping, pulping, etc.) that are adequate in eliminating any pests that may have tagged along.

How do source and origin differ?

Origin is where the wood was grown. Source was specifically created for producers of firewood since many acquire their wood from multiple origins. A firewood producer may collect wood grown within 50 miles of their business and then declare their business as the source. They must keep records for at least two years detailing the amount of wood collected and from where, and they must provide labels or receipts to their customers with their business address and contact information. See an example of source documentation for a producer (PDF).

For further definitions of terms like firewood, firewood dealer, firewood producer, etc., see legal documentation (leaves DEC website).

How long do I need to retain proof of source, origin, or heat treatment?

"Don't Move Firewood" poster with a photo of a truck transporting firewood
Click on the above poster
for a printable PDF

Source, origin, or heat treatment documentation are required during transport and may be discarded once the firewood has arrived at its destination. If people plan on moving firewood to multiple sites, they should retain documentation until all the firewood is used. No documentation is needed for firewood that is used on the same property from where it is cut, unless it is transported on public roads from one area of the property to another.

Are seasoning or kiln-drying firewood acceptable treatments?

Seasoning firewood is not an acceptable treatment. For kiln-drying, it depends.

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 and is not an acceptable treatment for firewood that will be transported away from its source or origin.

Kiln-drying alone is not regulated, meaning times and temperatures vary between producers. The process does not necessarily raise the internal temperature of the firewood to 71° C (160° F) for 75 minutes, which is required to be considered heat-treated.

How do I know if my destination is within the regulation distance if I'm transporting untreated firewood?

  1. Visit Google Maps (link leaves DEC website).
  2. Search the location of the wood's source/origin. Right-click the location on the map.
  3. Select "measure distance".
  4. Click your destination on the map to measure the linear distance. A box will pop up at the bottom of the screen showing the distance. If under 50 miles, it is acceptable to transport the firewood to the destination.

Pests & Threats That Can Spread Through Firewood

Almost every native New York tree species is susceptible to attack by one or more exotic pests. Some of these insects and diseases are already known to be present in parts of New York, and some are threatening us from others states or regions, and still others have yet to find their way to the United States (that we know of).

Some invasive pests of concern and their respective hosts:

  • Asian loghorned beetle - maple, birch, ash, sycamore, poplar, willow, elm, hackberry, mountain ash, horsechestnut
  • Oak wilt - oak, especially red oak
  • Emerald ash borer - all ash species (white, black, green)
  • Asian gypsy moth - over 500 hosts including oak, basswood, birch, poplar, alder, willow, larch, hemlock, pine, and spruce
  • Light brown apple moth - apple, oak, pine, poplar, walnut
  • Brown spruce longhorned beetle - spruce

Additional Efforts to Prevent the Spread of Forest Pests

Restrictions on Firewood in Other States and Countries

Several states and jurisdictions have imposed regulations on the movement and/or importation of firewood for the same purposes that New York State has. Firewood regulations currently exist in various forms 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 not to move firewood. 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.

Quarantines

Federal and state quarantines for individual pests (such as oak wilt and Asian longhorned beetle, for example) regulate host materials for those species. You must follow the more restrictive rules for firewood transport between the quarantine and the firewood regulation. If you can move 50 miles before reaching the boundary of a quarantine, then the firewood regulation prohibits further movement of the wood. If you reach a quarantine boundary before you reach 50 miles, then the quarantine superseded the regulation, preventing further movement. As quarantines are expanded, lifted, etc., the NYS firewood regulation will continue to be in effect.

Enforcement, Violations, & Penalties

Any law enforcement officer can 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.

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 to be returned to its source/origin or confiscated and destroyed by law enforcement officers.

Remember, failing to follow the regulation could lead to greater impacts beyond a ticket fee:

  • Death of trees in your favorite campground, along your street, or in your yard
  • 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)
  • Millions of dollars required to removed 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

If you have any questions regarding the firewood regulation, please email us at foresthealth@dec.ny.gov or call our toll-free number at 1-866-640-0652.