Arbor Day 2017 is now just a pleasant memory. Many of us are now looking forward to the beginning of summer. Are you planning to take advantage of the many opportunities to get outside and enjoy the outdoors this season? Do your plans include a campfire, when permitted of course? If the answer is yes, the slogan “Buy local, burn local” is good to remember. Why? Because firewood is a great way for unnoticed invasive freeloaders to take a ride to a new location.

Our friends at the Washington Invasive Species Council tell us that invasive species are plants, animals or organisms that spread so quickly they harm native species. Invasive species are not native to Washington but were transported here by someone or something. While not all non-native species are harmful, there are many that can cause big problems in the water and landscape, including urban and community forests. Take emerald ash borer (EAB), for example. Thankfully this tiny green beetle has not yet found its way to Washington, but since being discovered in Michigan in the summer of 2002, it has been responsible for killing hundreds of millions of ash trees throughout North America. The loss of trees in the east include native species and trees growing in cities and towns. The cost to municipalities, property owners, the nursery industry and the forest products industries is counted in the hundreds of millions of dollars. What is important to know is that the spread of this insect has been accelerated by the transportation of firewood. It is likely that this is how the insect traveled to Boulder, Colorado, currently the closest reported location of the insect relative to Washington state.

If you are an urban forestry advocate, you can help protect trees by spreading the slogan “Buy local, burn local.” You can also learn more about EAB and how to spot it in the landscape.

Here are a couple more resources:

Colorado created a short video to raise awareness of the spread of emerald ash borer. You can follow this link to check it out.

Learn how to identify EAB with this video field guide.

By Linden J. Lampman, program manager, DNR Urban and Community Forestry Program