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Burn Notice: Don't Move That Firewood!

November 10, 2011

ALBANY, N.Y. - With colder weather ushering in the home heating season, New Yorkers are being warned not to move firewood more than 50 miles beyond its origin because they might be spreading insects and diseases that can destroy Empire State forests. "Buy it where you burn it" is the slogan, aimed partly at folks who have a house in the country or who vacation there.

Leigh Greenwood with The Nature Conservancy says bringing firewood back to town - or buying it in town and hauling it to a weekend home - is a bad idea.

"Firewood often could have diseases, insects, funguses, that could be very damaging if you move them. Basically, it's a hitchhiking kind of situation."

You could also run afoul of laws that vary by county and be hit with a fine. Greenwood says if trees on your property were felled by the recent storms, one silver lining is you can use that wood in your fireplace or share it with neighbors, regardless of infestations, as long as you do not move it beyond a 50-mile radius.

Greenwood says you can be fined if caught improperly moving firewood around New York.

"It's not because anybody takes pride in putting a fine on a regular citizen. It's because this is incredibly important. It costs everybody - municipalities, landowners and the federal government - millions of dollars a year because of these damages."

Greenwood points out that tree infestations and the risk of exporting them in firewood are not limited to rural New York. She says an Asian longhorned beetle infestation is nearing the point of eradication in a small part of New York City.

"If one of those New York City residents who unknowingly has a contaminated tree took wood upstate into Eastern New York, like the Catskills or the Albany area, and put it near their second home, they could start a whole new infestation that could kill all the maples of New England."

The importation of any untreated firewood from outside New York State is also prohibited. Producers of firewood sold at retail are required to identify the source to dealers, who are required to provide it to customers.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - NY