WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2012/PRNewswire/ -- As the summer traveling season draws to a close, millions of Americans will hit the road for a final family vacation before the kids head back to school. While national parks and campgrounds will once again prove to be a popular destination, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is urging outdoor enthusiasts to help stop the spread of invasive pests by leaving firewood behind.
"Camping is a wonderful tradition with many families. Often, it makes the memories that last a lifetime," says Sharon Lucik of the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). "We need to ensure future generations enjoy these excursions by helping to stop the spread of destructive forest pests such as the emerald ash borer."
Firewood is a vehicle for the spread of forest pests and diseases, including the emerald ash borer (EAB). The EAB lives in firewood, and people can unknowingly spread the beetle hundreds of miles when moving infested firewood.
Tens of millions of ash trees, from forests to neighborhoods, have been killed by the emerald ash borer.Since it was first detected in North America, the pest has been found in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.Connecticut recently became the 16th state to report the detection of EAB.
The emerald ash borer is a very small but very destructive beetle. It can fit on the head of a penny, and is hard to spot in the wild; thus, it is critical not to assume that piece of firewood looks pest-free.
"The bottom line is, don't move firewood when you travel; however, if you must, only purchase certified treated and labeled firewood," says Lucik. "Although treated firewood is safe to move, calling ahead to your destination is always advised."
USDA urges travelers to buy firewood where they burn it, and to burn it all on-site.
ABOUT USDA APHIS: With Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's leadership, APHIS works tirelessly to create and sustain opportunities for America's farmers, ranchers and producers. Each day, APHIS promotes U.S. agricultural health, regulates genetically engineered organisms, administers the Animal Welfare Act, and carries out wildlife damage management activities, all to safeguard the nation's agriculture, fishing and forestry industries. In the event that a pest or disease of concern is detected, APHIS implements emergency protocols and partners with affected states and other countries to quickly manage or eradicate the outbreak. To promote the health of U.S. agriculture in the international trade arena, APHIS develops and advances science-based standards with trading partners to ensure America's agricultural exports, valued at more than $137 billion annually, are protected from unjustified restrictions.