The Department of Natural Resources wants to tighten the noose around the forests’ most damaging invaders by reducing to 10 miles the distance from which a state campground user may carry in firewood.
Paul DeLong, the state’s chief forester, says the increased presence of invasive pests such as the emerald ash borer, beech bark disease, and oak wilt is behind the recommendation to go before the Natural Resources Board on October 24.
The current rule states only firewood originating from 25 miles or less may be brought onto a state forest or state property or wood that comes from a vendor certified by the state as treating their wood to stop the transmission of pests or diseases. “Buying local or certified firewood is an excellent way to prevent the movement of pest and disease that can damage our forests and community trees. “ DeLong said.
DeLong says slicing the allowable travel distance for firewood onto state property to 10 miles will better protect trees – a valuable state natural resource important to the state’s economy.
If DeLong’s recommendation is supported by the board at their October meeting, a draft rule change would be prepared and be slated for public hearings. If ultimately approved, the new rule would take effect in roughly two years.
“This is the prudent step to take when it comes to the health of the state’s forests,” DeLong said. “It is important to note private homes and private property would not be affected by the suggested reduction in the distance firewood may be transported. This only pertains to state lands – notably state campgrounds.”
Delong also stressed the offer to reconfigure that distance limit from the current 25 miles to a new 10 mile limit is simply that – an idea . “This is up for discussion with the Natural Resources Board. It is not yet a proposed rule to be officially considered by the public or the Legislature. If the board approves us to move forward, we will develop a draft proposal and begin seeking public input on the idea.”
Image courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources