Sustainability | Ecotrope

Going camping? Buy local firewood to avoid invasive species

Ecotrope | June 10, 2011 4:49 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:37 p.m.

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Burning local firewood at your campsite will ensure you're not carting invasive species into your favorite wilderness area.

Burning local firewood at your campsite will ensure you're not carting invasive species into your favorite wilderness area.

A bundle of firewood you pick up at the grocery store can be like a Trojan horse for the habitat around your camp site. A study by Oregon State University found 20 invasive species in six bundles of firewood from grocery stores.  The wood in packaged bundles can come from as far away as the East Coast, New Zealand or Russia.

A “buy it where you burn it” campaign is stressing the dangers of transporting firewood across ecosystems. The wood can be a vehicle for invasive species to cross state borders and even continents. Insects and diseases that threaten native species in the Northwest can lie dormant in or on firewood for up to two years.

The research is part of a larger effort to change behaviors that spread invasive species. I’ve been carting around a couple chunks of wood in my Subaru for years now. I started doing it in Wyoming during the frigid winters when I would regularly have to drive through vast expanses of unpopulated areas on roads covered with thick sheets of ice. I have no idea where they came from originally. Whoops. I should probably swap them out for a fire starter.

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