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Is Transporting Firewood Illegal?

Is Transporting Firewood Illegal

Over the years restriction on the use and transportation of firewood has become increasingly more strict. This is in an effort to protect forests and natural habitats. 

Transporting firewood can be illegal in some states. Not only does the transportation of firewood need to be registered for larger distances, such as outside of state lines, but even within a single state the movement of firewood needs to be recorded.

Here we will tell you everything that you need to know about transporting firewood, including the legalities of moving firewood.

Is It Legal to Transport Firewood Over State Lines?

When it comes to the legal side of transporting firewood it is very important to note that every state has its own rules and regulations regarding the use and movement of firewood. 

The idea behind restricting the movement of firewood is to protect the spread of any diseased wood, or bugs local to one specific area that may cause havoc when transported on firewood to another state (or even area within that state). 

So, in some instances, it is perfectly fine to transport firewood over state lines, but it is always best to check the exact regulations of the distance that you intend to move the wood. For example, certain states are significantly more strict on firewood movement than others. These include:

  • Minnesota
  • Michigan
  • Wisconsin
  • Illinois
  • Ohio
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Indiana

Typically, if there is a restricted zone (a zone that has been quarantined due to an infestation) then firewood is restricted to a 50-mile radius. The firewood may not be transported beyond this distance. This will then stop any infestations from spreading from one state to another and causing chaos amongst the biodiversity of the country.

So, unfortunately, the answer to is transporting firewood illegal is complicated. The answer is yes and no. Depending on your departure point and your destination the laws will vary. In order to make sure that your transportation is legal check your journey online or contact the state’s department of agriculture. 

This way you can make sure that you have all the correct information regarding the relevant laws.

Fined for Transporting Firewood

It is always better to be safe than sorry. An example of this happened in 2012 when a group of six people were fined for transporting firewood in Lake George, NY. Here, firewood cannot be transported more than 50 miles from its point of origin unless it has been heat-treated and approved for movement. 

These six people had fines of up to $250 as well as an additional $100 civil penalty. They also faced up to 15 days in prison. 

These state laws have been in effect since 2009 in a bid to curb the spread of dangerous environmental threats. Some of these threats were noted as:

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  • Emerald ash borer
  • Sirex woodwasp
  • Asian longhorned beetle

Although none of these threats were found to be present in the wood transported by the six offenders, the possibility was there. The checks at the border ensured that the wood was examined and confiscated due to the lack of heat treatment and the danger that the untreated wood posed to the new environment.

What Firewood Is Safe to Transport?

Normally untreated firewood is best kept within the local area for safety reasons. However, if you absolutely must transport firewood then look to treat your own wood, or purchase pre-treated firewood. These are usually heat treated and will be adorned with a seal from the USDA APHIS. 

The idea behind this seal and the use of heat treatment is to ensure the safety of the environment. By heat-treating the firewood, it kills and removes any bugs, insects and bacteria that may be harmful to the wellbeing of the surrounding nature. 

It is also to suppress the excessive spreading of invasive species such as the emerald ash borer, which will grow rapidly out of control if not properly contained and maintained. 

So, if you are unsure about whether or not the firewood that you are about to purchase has been heat-treated look for the corresponding seal. Normally if the firewood has this then it will be perfectly legal to transport across any distance within the country, however, it is still best to check this with the appropriate authorities. 

Buy Firewood Locally or Heat-Treat Your Firewood

Essentially you have two options: buy local or heat-treat. If you choose to keep the firewood local (either when buying, selling or transporting) then you can be safe in the knowledge that you are not violating any laws. Furthermore, you are contributing to the well-being of the country’s natural habitats.

You are certainly not moving any dangerous insects, species or diseases between different wildlife areas. If you must move your firewood, for example, for business purposes, then you should ensure that it complies with state and government guidelines by either restricting the distance that it will travel or heat-treat it appropriately. 

If you choose to heat-treat your firewood you must make sure that the process is done by a recognized, registered and authorized company. If your treated firewood is not done by such a company then it may not be eligible for a seal. This means that you may have to get rid of all firewood done by this process. 

Final Thoughts

There is no concrete set of laws about the transportation of firewood for the entire country. Instead, each state has its own set of regulations regarding the restrictions on the movement of firewood. 

It is always best to source your firewood locally if possible as this prevents the possible spread of invasive species and pests. This then protects the health of the country’s habitat and natural areas. However, if you must transport firewood you should ensure that it is correctly heat-treated, with an approved seal.

If you are at all unsure about the legality of transporting firewood from one destination to another then contact the state’s department of agriculture who will be able to answer any queries that you have. They can inform you of that particular state’s laws regarding the transportation of treated and/or untreated firewood.

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