Nonprofits' message: Keep firewood close to home
Environmental groups are sending out a warning that transporting firewood across state lines can spread insects and diseases, wiping out swaths of forest and causing economic and environmental damage.
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Transporting firewood across state lines can spread insects and diseases, thereby wiping out swaths of forests. Because this can cause considerable economic and environmental damage, The Nature Conservancy oversees a "Don’t Move Firewood" website. The site, which gives state-by-state information, encourages people to buy locally harvested wood.
“We absolutely see that the longer there is a presence of a "Don’t Move Firewood" campaign in a state the more the public becomes aware. States without ‘Don’t Move’ just don’t get it,” says Lee Greenwood, coalitions and network manager for The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit group that works around the world to protect ecologically important land and water.
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The "Don't Move" site grew from an effort called the Continental Dialogue on Non-Native Forest Insects and Diseases, a loose-knit group of organizations and individuals working to keep ecological invaders at bay.
While The Nature Conservancy owns the site, other nonprofit and government organizations are involved. They include the American Forest Foundation, the National Association of State Foresters, the Society of American Foresters, and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.
Native trees can defend themselves against native insects and diseases. But trouble ensues when non-native insects and diseases show up, hitching a ride on firewood transported from elsewhere.
"That’s What Tree Said" and "Tree shirts" are available for purchase on the "Don't Move" site – a humorous way to raise awareness about this issue.
The leaf-munching Asian longhorned beetle is one of biggest threats to New England’s maple trees, threatening the fall foliage season. Restaurants, hotels, farm stands, and maple syrup distributors count on the annual tourism: Leaf peepers account for nearly $300 million in annual revenue in Vermont alone, according to the state's tourism and marketing department.