The problem is movement of firewood over long distances. We support the use of local firewood for home heating and campfires; it’s a renewable fuel and helps sustain Vermont’s working landscape. Unfortunately, firewood may also carry invasive insects and diseases that can kill native trees, decrease property values, and that are costly to manage. Carrying non-native pests in firewood allows them to jump to new locations, accelerating damage and shrinking options for protecting forest health.
There are many examples of firewood carrying pests to new places. Dozens of emerald ash borer infestations have been found in or near campgrounds, including the first infestations in Missouri, Indiana and West Virginia. New Asian longhorned beetle infestations developed when firewood was transported from Brooklyn to eastern Long Island, within Ohio, and most likely from Worcester to Boston MA. Oak Wilt, a tree disease that occurs in the central US, was brought to the capital region of New York on firewood.
Yes. The rule states that cut firewood cannot be brought into Vermont without certification that it is heat treated.
The purpose of the firewood rule is to protect forest health by preventing the long-distance movement of wood-borne invasive pests. It’s especially helpful in protecting trees from pests we don’t know about yet or which are invisible within the wood. Pests we do know about may be in an area for several years before they’re noticed and a quarantine is established.
Firewood is riskier than other wood products because it is more likely to be produced from unhealthy trees. Once moved, pests in firewood have an extended opportunity to spread. Unlike sawlogs, which must be processed quickly so they don’t degrade, firewood is often stored for a long time before burning. Firewood movement is highly decentralized, while sawlogs move to a limited number of locations for storage and processing. In Vermont, there are less than 50 commercial sawmills, compared to nearly 100,000 households. Logs harvested for lumber are already regulated by state or federal quarantines if they come from areas infested by pests of concern, such as emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle.
Vermont’s rule applies to wood for burning cut less than four feet long. It does not apply to chips, pellets, pulpwood, or wood sawn into boards, planks, or beams.
Log-length firewood can carry pests too. Why does the rule only cover firewood less than 4’ long?
This rule focuses on preventing long-distance movement. When cut to short lengths, firewood is portable, and easy to redistribute far from its origin. Logs are expensive to truck; it’s not cost-effective to transport low-value firewood over long-distances.
Yes, the same rules apply to all firewood, including wood for home heating, commercial use, and campfires.
Yes. All of our native trees are threatened by non-native pests that occur outside of Vermont, including hardwood and softwood species.
This rule doesn’t apply to wood sawn into lumber. However, any wood that isn’t heat treated could carry live insects or diseases, and should be used locally. Don’t burn lumber that is pressure-treated with preservatives, because it will release toxic compounds. Painted wood, and products that contain glue, may release toxins as well.
To be considered heat-treated under the rule, the temperature inside the wood must have been at least 160° F for no less than 75 minutes. This is a USDA standard treatment that kills any insects or microorganisms concealed in the wood. The treatment must have been done at a facility approved by the USDA or by a state plant regulatory agency. Certified heat-treated firewood burns well and is safe for cooking.
Insects and micro-organisms that recycle dead wood in the forest could infest treated firewood, if it is exposed to moisture. However, the risk of infestation by insects and diseases that threaten living trees is very low.
No. Kiln drying and heat treating are not the same. While a kiln may be used to heat-treat firewood, “kiln drying” is not an approved treatment because the time and temperature standards are not uniform. This process reduces the moisture content of the wood but may not be hot enough to kill pests.
This is documentation that travels with the wood. Several pieces of information are required. It must say that the wood was “heat treated to reach and maintain a minimum core temperature of 160°F for at least 75 minutes”. It also has to say where the firewood was treated (name and address), and what government agency approved the treatment facility. This information can be included on a label, invoice, or bill of lading, or it may be a separate document, like a government-issued plant health certificate.
Facilities that provide treatments operate under legal agreements with either the USDA or a state agency, usually the agriculture department. These compliance agreements list steps that will be taken to assure wood meets regulatory standards. The facilities are also tested to make sure they are able to meet the required temperature. To export wood into Vermont, facilities need to keep treatment records for three years, including the method used, volume of wood, and date. Businesses with compliance agreements may provide their own certification that wood has been properly treated. Consumers should look for this on labels or invoices.
The Agency of Natural Resources Environmental Enforcement Officers are responsible for the investigation and documentation of violations. If a violation does occur that you would like to report, complaints may be submitted to the Agency of Natural Resources online at http://dec.vermont.gov/enforcement/reporting, or by telephone at 802-828-1254 during business hours.
Any non-compliant wood may be confiscated and destroyed. The Agency of Natural Resources can bring enforcement action to compel full compliance with all applicable statutes and regulations as well as assess penalties for the violation. In addition, there are federal penalties for movement of regulated firewood from areas under federal quarantine for emerald ash borer or other pests.
No. The rule doesn’t allow untreated firewood to enter Vermont, even if it is intended for use elsewhere. However, a waiver may be granted if transporting the wood is not a threat to Vermont’s forest health.
The rule does not apply to firewood that was harvested in Vermont. However, firewood can carry pests from one region of the state to another. Get wood from the closest source possible. We consider anything over 50 miles to be risky. Within 25 miles is better.
Although this rule does not apply to firewood from Vermont, other federal or state rules may apply. In our region, Vermont firewood must comply with other regulations if it is being transported into Canada, New York, New Hampshire, Maine, or Connecticut. If you intend to take firewood outside of Vermont, contact the agricultural agencies covering the route and destination about their firewood laws. There are non-native pests in Vermont that could be moved to new locations on firewood, including Sirex woodwasp, hemlock woolly adelgid, and gypsy moth.
I’ve always obtained my wood close to home, but it’s over the state line. Why should that be illegal?
You can request a waiver which would allow you to legally import wood from locations near Vermont. If you want to get wood from New York, Massachusetts, or Canada, you also need to comply with USDA quarantines. Criteria for waivers may change as pests of concern move to new areas.
You can request a waiver online, or by contacting the VT Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation at 802-885-8845.
Buy wood from a reputable supplier, and request that the location it came from be written on the invoice. If the wood is from outside of Vermont, ask for certification that the wood has been heat treated or that a waiver is in effect. Be aware that, if you possess non-compliant wood, it can be confiscated without compensation.
There are no new requirements for firewood dealers who only harvest wood from Vermont and process it within the state. Although not required, consider adding information about the source of firewood on invoices to assure customers that it’s from Vermont.
Contact the campground you’ll be visiting. Most have firewood available at a reasonable price, or can direct you to a local source. If the firewood wasn’t harvested nearby, make sure it has a label certifying that it was heat treated. Unless the firewood is still packaged and labeled, don’t take it to your next destination.
The label should say that the wood was heat treated at 160°F for at least 75 minutes. Wood that has a US Department of Agriculture label saying that it is certified under “all applicable” federal and state quarantines has been adequately heat treated. “Kiln dried” wood may not be.
I already moved firewood. How can I dispose of it properly?
The best option is to burn it quickly, completely, and safely. Rake up bark or other debris and burn them as well. Do not leave it on site or carry it to a new location.
There are firewood regulations throughout our region. Untreated campfire wood cannot be brought into Canada, New York, New Hampshire, Maine, or Connecticut. It can’t be brought to state parks in Massachusetts. Unless it’s from a softwood species, it can’t be brought into Rhode Island from neighboring states. Find out about other state quarantines at www.dontmovefirewood.org/the-problem/state-state-information/index.html.
It should be burned quickly and completely. Do not leave leftover wood on-site for future campers. If the wood is from USDA quarantine areas, it could be an immediate threat. The greatest risk is ash firewood or wood from Asian longhorned beetle infested areas: Long Island, NY, southwestern Ohio, and locations around Worcester, MA or Toronto, ON. Contact Emilie Inoue with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets at (802) 505-0217 if you think firewood may be infested with Asian longhorned beetle or emerald ash borer.
No, the Agency of Natural Resources is responsible for enforcing the rule. Campground owners can help to assure compliance and reduce risk by making visitors aware of the rule and its importance to forest health. Outreach materials are available for campground owners by contacting UVM Extension at Meredith.Whitney@uvm.edu. If a violation does occur that you would like to report, complaints may be submitted to the Agency of Natural Resources online at http://dec.vermont.gov/enforcement/reporting, or by telephone at 802-828-1254 during business hours.
For more information about Vermont’s firewood rule, go to fpr.vermont.gov/firewood, or contact Barbara Schultz, VT Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation Forest Health Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-777-2082.
For more information about invasive tree pests, go to vtinvasives.org.
For more information about the national Don’t-Move-Firewood campaign, go to dontmovefirewood.org.