Skip to main content

The Ring of Fire… Wood: Buy Local, Burn Local.

Fall season in Florida is officially here! With this, many are enjoying increased outdoor activities brought about by the pleasant, cool temperatures such as camping, hiking, and gathering around a fire. To help protect our natural ecosystems, forestry industry, and even manufacturing sectors, it’s important to be conscious of the firewood you’re purchasing.

Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) and trunk damage. Photo credit: FDACS-DPI.

Several wood-boring insect pests such as the Asian long-horned beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis), Emerald Ash borer (Agrilus planipennis), European Wood wasp (Sirex noctilio), and the Redbay Ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glaborus) can potentially spread through untreated, imported firewood. These pests cause physical damage to trees and can spread diseases like oak wilt, beech bark disease, and sudden oak death.

In August of 2010, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Plant Industry implemented regulations on untreated firewood to aid in further protecting Florida’s tree species and ecosystems. Transporting out-of-state firewood is generally prohibited, unless accompanied with proper permitting.

While most state parks prohibit gathering wood onsite, many sell their own firewood, with a handful of local retailers ensuring its availability within the region. Be sure to ask the seller where the wood was cut, keeping in mind that a 10 miles radius, or same county sourcing is most ideal.

Sudden Oak Death (Phytophthora ramorum). Photo credit: Jennifer Parke, Oregon State University.

Other important factors to consider include burning all the wood that you purchase, making sure not to leave any of your firewood behind. Dry season firewood, which contains little or loose bark, is also best for our health and easiest to burn. Furthermore, take care to wash down your vehicles between trips, including RVs, as they can harbor pests and pest eggs in wheel wells.

For excellent information on where to purchase firewood locally, some of the invasive species spread through untreated wood, and the differences in heat-treated and kiln-dried wood, check out The Nature Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood campaign.

For a great summary on topics covered in this article, see the FDACS-DPI Firewood Brochure.

To learn more about Florida’s firewood rules, see the FDACS-DPI Rule 5B-65, Firewood and Unprocessed Wood Products.