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Holiday firewood should be purchased, burned locally

By Jennifer Stewart
Purdue News Service
December 16, 2008

Emerald Ash Borer

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - With temperatures plummeting and the holiday season in full swing, it may be time to light the fireplace. But being selective about firewood can help prevent a whole host of problems in the months to come.

Although emerald ash borer is inactive during the winter months in Indiana, its larvae hibernate under the bark of ash wood until warmer weather arrives in spring. This means that moving firewood, even now, can spread the devastating insect - and other diseases of trees and invasive species - to new areas.

"On its own, emerald ash borer only spreads about a half mile annually, but sadly, infestations have occurred in many new places because unsuspecting people have accidentally moved it in their firewood," said Purdue entomologist Jodie Ellis. "It used to be that Michigan, Ohio and Indiana were the only states where the emerald ash borer was a problem, but it's now been spread to Missouri, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Maryland and West Virginia."

Following state and federal quarantines when purchasing firewood can help slow the spread.

In 20 Indiana counties, it is illegal to move all kinds of hardwood firewood outside the county without a compliance agreement from the Department of Natural Resources.

In addition, all of Indiana is under a federal quarantine that restricts movement of all hardwood firewood - not just ash - into any other state. That means no firewood can leave the state.

Quarantine violations can result in fines totaling thousands of dollars.

To find out which counties are quarantined, visit http://www.entm.purdue.edu/EAB

"The best thing to do is buy all firewood, whether it's for camping or heating your home, near the place where you'll burn it," Ellis said. "Avoid stockpiling firewood beyond one season's needs, if possible. It's best to burn all firewood before spring, and make sure you are educated on firewood regulations."