FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Stocking up on firewood is on the minds of many Coloradans and visitors to the State, with some seeking full cords for winter fuel, while others need just a few armloads for fall hunting trips.
But because of the immense impact bark beetles and other insects are having on Colorado forests, Colorado State Forest Service officials are warning people about the attendant risks.
“There are many potential risks associated with moving firewood, from spreading native insects like spruce beetle to introducing non-native urban pests from outside our borders,” said Sky Stephens, CSFS forest entomologist.
The transportation of firewood is a common cause of the accidental introduction of harmful tree insects and diseases to new areas. Insects, fungi and diseases that can hitch a ride on cut wood – from both living and dead trees – are often hidden away under the bark. Insects of primary concern include the emerald ash borer and gypsy moth, pests that have not yet impacted Colorado but are active threats to its deciduous trees. Thousand Cankers Disease, which has already killed most of the black walnut trees in some urban Front Range communities, is another major concern related to moving firewood.
The CSFS offers several tips for protecting Colorado trees and forests:
• Burn firewood at the location where you buy or cut it. Leave behind any wood you don’t burn.
• Don’t ever transport firewood or any other raw wood across state lines (the transport may even be illegal).
• Ask firewood dealers questions about the origin of the wood, and always try to buy locally. (The best option is anything labeled with the Colorado Forest Products logo.)
• Learn to identify the symptoms of common pests in the type of wood you plan to burn.
For more information about insects and diseases that threaten Colorado trees, contact a local CSFS district office or visit csfs.colostate.edu.