Invasive insects, such as the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle, pose a threat to more than half of Vermont’s trees. Both insects are native to Asia and came to the United States in solid wood packing material. Once established in this country, they have spread far and wide. On their own the insects do not fly very far – maybe one or two miles in their lifetime – but humans have helped move them very effectively. One of the easiest ways for the insects to move is inside firewood. Neither the emerald ash borer nor Asian longhorned beetle have been found in Vermont. However, they are knocking on our doors. It is important to educate campers about the importance of buying firewood where they burn it.
UVM Extension is working in partnership with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets, Animal Health, Plant Inspection Service (AHIPS), and the National Don’t Move Firewood campaign to support private campground owners throughout Vermont in raising awareness about the issue of invasive insects. The project involves working directly with 16 private campgrounds in Vermont to establish pest prevention, preparedness, and response programs. The campgrounds were selected based on interest they expressed in past years as well as their risk for introduction of invasive pests. UVM Extension will provide each campground with a map indicating all of their ash, maple, and hemlock trees (host trees to the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, and hemlock woolly adelgid, respectively). An on the ground inventory using GIS technology will not only generate the map, but also create a meaningful connection between UVM Extension and the campground. In some cases, campground owners take part in the inventory. UVM Extension will also supply each campground with educational material and suggested best management practices for preventing the movement of firewood.
In May 2016, Vermont passed a law preventing the importation of firewood into Vermont unless it is certified as heat-treated. Since we are in the early stages of the law, the emphasis is on outreach and education. Private campground owners are in a tricky position when it comes to this topic. It is not their responsibility to enforce the law and yet they are at the highest risk of invasion. The campground owner gets an earful from campers who insist on bringing their firewood from out of state. We have a lot to learn from private campground owners about successful outreach strategies that will reach campers even before they pull up to their campsite. We look forward to working with private campgrounds again next year and creating an effective firewood awareness campaign to promote and offer opportunities to buy local firewood.