HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
July 9, 2007, Herald Journal

Hidden dangers in firewood?

By JENNIFER GALLUS

It seems there’s always something that we need to be on our toes about. As I was casually browsing the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s web site, I came across a warning about transporting firewood.

It’s a warning that I’ve seen before at state parks and campgrounds, but never really paid much attention to since we’ve never taken our own firewood on a camping trip and have always left any extra firewood at the campsite for the next campers to enjoy.

The MDA’s article advises anyone who will be traveling or camping to not bring firewood from home to burn at the destination, and similarly warns people to not bring home firewood from a campground or vacation spot.

This is because firewood can harbor invasive insects and disease pathogens that can potentially harm local trees and forests, according to the web site www.mda.state.mn.us.

Emerald ash borer is one of the evil insects that can be found lurking in firewood, just looking for a free ride into uninhabited territory to spread its borer likeness.

It’s a nonnative insect that has killed more than 20 million ash trees since 2002. Luckily, it hasn’t found its way into Minnesota yet, but it is as close as Michigan and could easily hitch a ride into Minnesota from unassuming travelers transporting firewood or nursery stock.

A 2006 inspection in Michigan found 114 campers bringing firewood that had evidence of emerald ash borer into state parks, according to the web site report.

Gypsy moth has been extremely detrimental to forests in the eastern states and now threatens Minnesota’s forests. Its troublesome eggs can be found in firewood and can unintentionally be transported to areas not yet affected.

Twenty states, including Wisconsin, have forests that are infested with gypsy moth and are regulated under federal quarantine, according to the report.

In addition, oak wilt and Dutch elm disease can also lay-in-wait in firewood and can be spread innocently enough into new areas.

We are encouraged to buy firewood locally at our destination and burn all of it.

I’ve always harbored ill feelings towards those firewood dealers who charge an insane amount of money for an incredibly small bundle wood, but have always patronized them anyway.

Now, I have a reason to keep my opinion about their price jacking to myself, buy the local wood, and enjoy the fire with a clear conscience that I have not aided and abetted detrimental forest enemies.

Kid-isms

I think this qualifies as a kid-ism. One day I was unloading duck feed on one end of our barn as my husband was working on a tractor at the other end of the barn.

Just as I hoisted a 50-pound bag of feed onto my shoulder, I heard him yelling for help like he was injured.

I dropped the bag of feed, and ran to the back of the barn, only to find him laughing and saying that he had never seen me run so fast. Then he said, “You really do love me!”