DNR Board Tightens Restrictions On Firewood

New Rules Are Latest In Effort To Slow Spread Of Invasive Insect

Firewood that comes from more than 10 miles away is no longer allowed to brought onto state lands. Photo: Louis Waweru (CC-BY-SA)

The state Department of Natural Resources Board has again tightened restrictions on bringing firewood onto Wisconsin state lands to try to slow the spread of an invasive insect.

Over the last few years, as the emerald ash borer has spread into more Wisconsin ash trees, the DNR has been shrinking the area from which firewood may be brought onto state lands. The newest restriction passed by the DNR Board cuts the area from 25 miles to 10 miles of state property.

However, the board said wood can now come onto Wisconsin state lands from bordering states, so long as the 10-mile limit is followed.

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The vote came despite the objection of Harold Norslien, of Black Earth. He said only wood certified as free of the ash borer should be allowed onto state land.

“I’m kind of fed up,” said Norlsien. “Why is the DNR still proposing to legally allow infected wood into our state parks? Where is the benefit of the 10-mile proposal?”

Norslien questioned whether there was a political motivation in allowing wood sellers next to state parks to continue to sell firewood that could have the ash borer larvae in it.

The DNR’s Andrea Diss-Torrance said the 10-mile limit makes reasonable biological sense.

“If a pest or disease is established within 10 miles of a property, it may very well already be there — or if it isn’t, it very well may be there within a year or two,” she said.

Diss-Torrance also said firewood vendors inside state parks are sometimes closed, but small stores just outside park boundaries may be open.

Diss-Torrance acknowledges that DNR staff won’t be searching cars to check on the origin of any firewood, but she said continuing to ask park-goers where they got their wood encourages people to follow the law and help fight the spread of the emerald ash borer.