UDAF reminds Utahns of firewood quarantine

One of the great signals of summer in Utah are campfires, but officials at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food in an email reminds residents that firewood from outside the state is prohibited.

That’s because of a relatively new legislative rule, R68-23, that addresses the potential damage caused by invasive insects that stowaway on firewood brought in commercially or privately, according to UDAF.

“Utah’s firewood quarantine is critical to the health of our forests and agriculture industry in general,” said Kerry Gibson, department commissioner. “The main impetus behind the quarantine is invasive bugs, such as Emerald Ash Borer, Pine Shoot Beetle, Asian Longhorned Beetle and Spotted Lanternfly.”

State Entomologist Kris Watson says that these and other invasive bugs have cost other states millions of dollars in damage to tree and agriculture products. The ash borer, for example, is responsible for killing tens of millions of an estimated 8.7 billion ash trees throughout North America.

“While we haven’t had any confirmed cases of EAB in Utah to date, we have had exposures to other invasive bugs in the past and it takes a huge effort and expense to eradicate the creatures,” said Watson. “And we’ve also seen the damage done and cost to taxpayers in other states such as New York, Michigan, Kentucky and others.”

One of the provisions of the quarantine is that commercial firewood sold at stores must carry labeling that identifies where the wood came from. This is to ensure it isn’t from states with insect infestations or outbreaks that are on Utah’s watch list. Those interested can also visit the web site dontmovefirewood.com to get information about quarantine details in all 50 states, said UDAF in its email.

“Prevention is the best and most cost-effective way to manage invasive species,” Gibson said. “UDAF’s education and outreach efforts will hopefully inform the public about the appropriate sourcing of firewood to protect our forests.”

Gibson went on to say that prevention also means less reliance on insecticides, healthier and more proactive fruit trees, and healthier urban and national forests. This, in turn, allows businesses to export tree and plant products to other states.

The quarantine does not affect the typical fall firewood gathering in Utah. Those who like to salvage firewood from the mountains can still do that, with the exception of cutting in neighboring states and bringing the wood back to Utah, according to UDAF.