Summer’s just around the corner, which means so is camping, bird watching, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, and every other wonderful activity we’ve all been so anxiously awaiting to partake in as winter and spring roll through.  But when you’re out and about this summer, remember that leaving the habitat clear and undisturbed of human traffic is essential.  As we all get ready to take the campers out and spend some time in nature this summer keep these few tips in mind.

Campfires have always been a major staple in campgrounds, where roasting marshmallows and hotdogs and telling stories of the forest and ghosts is common tradition.  However, Michigan forests are being devastated by the practice of hauling wood from one part of the state to another.  In an attempt to keep the forests healthy Michigan now has multiple quarantine areas where the movement of hardwood firewood within a given quarantine area is allowed, but the movement between different quarantine areas is illegal in some, although not in all cases.  Michiganders are being strongly encouraged to buy and burn local firewood, regardless of where they are located.  Many states bordering Michigan have quarantines for pests such as thousand cankers disease or Asian longhorned beetles, and it’s illegal to move any regulated items such as firewood or woodchips from the quarantined zones into Michigan.  In an attempt to protect against further spread of the Emerald Ash Borer, as well as other forest pests such as Oak Wilt and Beech Bark Disease MDARD doesn’t recommend moving firewood out of counties.

By not transporting firewood you’re also stopping the spread these pesky little bugs and diseases.  The Emerald Ash Borer, which is an invasive insect has managed to impact nearly 10 million trees throughout most of southeast Michigan, and is one of the most prominent threats to Michigan’s forests.  Along with other species such as Oak wilt, Beech bark disease, Dutch Elm disease and gypsy moths, all of which are top threats in growing list of firewood hitchhikers.

Protecting Michigan’s forests doesn’t make campfires a thing of the past, just by taking a few extra precautions when out camping can help keep these forests we love so much safe and disease free.  Remember don’t bring firewood with you when you camp, which also includes leaving any wood that was purchased or found in the park, don’t bring it back home with you.  Rather give it off to another camper in need! Also most parks have concessions where wood can be purchased and if they don’t local vendors who live near the park generally sell it in small manageable bundles.  If you aren’t into buying wood maybe consider using charcoal or a cook stove to cook meals, or even better make some new friends and partner up around the warm crackling fire.

This article is part of the ongoing series on invasive species funded in part with funds from the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program through the Departments of Natural Resources, Environmental Quality, and Agriculture and Rural Development

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