While we certainly enjoy sitting around a nice campfire with friends, Gordon and I are not campfire builders ourselves. Unless we’re at a rally or campground where others have a campfire, we’re inside our camper at night.
Which is why we were unaware of the dangerous implications of transporting firewood. From the voluminous reader responses, there’s a lot more to carrying firewood than just finding a suitable place to put it.
Wood carries insects, insect larvae, fungal spores, and diseases that are extremely harmful to trees. Think of it like transporting mosquitoes from South America into your hometown. You might just bring an insect, or you might bring the next deadly virus ready to spread throughout the general population.
The Emerald Ash Borer has already destroyed entire forests and is believed to have been introduced by transporting firewood. Other culprits that have killed tens of millions of trees from transporting firewood include the Sirex woodwasp, gypsy moth, and Asian long-horned beetle.
These bugs are often in larvae form inside crevices and bark, and are all but invisible to the naked eye. In other words, you can’t judge wood just by looking at it. This applies to firewood, brush, and other tree and plant material. You have to assume all wood and plant material is dangerously infected, and act accordingly.
For more information, check out the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) “Buy Local. Burn Local.” PDF flier.
The best practices for firewood are to source it locally to where you are having a campfire. Unless you are camping locally, never bring firewood from home. As a rule of thumb, anything over fifty miles from home is too far.
This week reader Elquin Daza asked, “How do you carry your firewood?”
“I don’t carry firewood because in New Hampshire it is illegal to transport firewood due to insect infestations. Unless the firewood is kiln dried and certified insect free, it can spread several invasive insects. I think this holds true for the great lakes region as well. Many areas require that you burn it where you buy it. Check with the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service. I’m sure they can give you information on all quarantines through out the country and Canada. This is good information for your readers and protect our forests.” – Dennis Thorell, 2016 GMC 3500, 2009 Northern Lite 10-2 CDSE
“We don’t! Most states have laws/rules against transporting firewood due to potential pest transfer. That’s how the bad bugs travel and kill forests. Anyone ever hear of the Southern Pine Beetle or the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid? Buy from the campground you are at.” – Laurie Brokaw, 2006 Ford F250, 2010 Lance 850
“We always travel out of our county and so we don’t carry firewood. We buy local to avoid the spread of invasive pests like the Emerald ash borer.” – Bruce Scott
“You can get a rear carrier for your hitch. Load your firewood and then load camper. The firewood is under your camper and out of your way.” – George Ward, 2010 Chevy 2500HD, 1997 Lance
“For short night or two, I put the firewood in plastic totes, stored inside the camper until I get to my spot. Then it is stored under my truck. When traveling and for one night stays, I buy my wood for the evening enjoyment, when bush bashing. I rely on what I find in the woods.” – Jeff Mawbey, 2010 GMC 3500, 2010 Northern Lite 9.6 Queen
“On a front hitch mounted carrier.” – Mark Joslin, 2006 Ram 3500, 2005 Lance 1181
“I get some large totes with sealable lids. I put them in the boat and unload when I arrive. You could put in trailer or Jeep.” – Bob Presto, 2008 3500 Lance 1191
“We do not carry any firewood as it carries a large fine to transport firewood any where in our province. The insect explosion on hard and softwoods is out of control. Travel across borders into the USA is also illegal with monetary fines associated. We find firewood close to the area where we camp.” – Eric Devolin, 2007 Sierra 3500, 2006 Adventurer 106 DBS
“If I take the rear hitch rack, it goes there. If traveling for shorter periods of time we just load it in the rear of camper right at the door. We just wrap a tarp to protect the camper and take it out and cover when we reach our destination. We are careful moving wood because of bug problems as well. We sometimes buy kiln dried bagged wood as well and take that. Where else would you put it if the front, rear, and roof are occupied? Possibly consider pressed commercial logs. They are wrapped. When we take those I pre-cut them to smaller pieces and place them in plastic food bags that I use just for that.” – Jim Dailey, 2005 Dodge Ram HD, 1997 Shadow Cruiser 10
“Sorry Elquin, we carry our wood in the camper. We usually take a couple of milk crates worth and put them on the dinette seat.
Growing up my Dad loaded wood in solid-bottomed boxes and put them, wrapped in a tarp, in the boat for transport. The boat had a cover, but it wasn’t fully waterproof, thus the tarp.” – Melissa Malejko, 2002 Chevy Silverado 2500HD, 1981 Okanagan
“I use my front hitch with a carrier and two tubs full of wood, which is enough for a three day weekend. There’s enough room for a bag of charcoal and lighter as well.” – Rodger Greene, 2004 GMC 2500HD, 2010 Palomino Maverick