Many of us follow the “leave no trace” rule when we camp. When we leave the campsite, we do our best to make sure there is no evidence we have even been there. There’s something we could be leaving behind, though, that we may not have even thought of — invasive pests and diseases.

I came across a video on the Peachy Green blog today about eco-friendly camping, and one of the suggestions in the video was to always use local firewood. I would have never thought about this before, but if you bring firewood from another location to where you’re camping, you could be introducing invasive pests and diseases to the area.

I did a little research and found the Don’t Move Firewood website that has lots of information on this subject. The site recommends that you never bring firewood with you when you go camping. Also never bring firewood back home with you. Even if you have some leftover and you think you should take it home with you, leave it as a gift for the next campers.

Here are some tips from Don’t Move Firewood.

  • Buy firewood near where you will burn it. That means the wood was cut within 50 miles of where you'll have your fire.
  • Wood that looks clean and healthy can still have tiny insect eggs, or microscopic fungi spores, that will start a new and deadly infestation. Always leave it at home, even if you think the firewood looks fine.
  • Aged or seasoned wood is still not safe. Just because it is dry doesn't mean that bugs can't crawl onto it!
  • Tell your friends not to bring wood with them. Everyone needs to know that they should not move firewood.

For most of us camping wouldn’t be camping without a campfire to roast marshmallows for S’mores or to sit around late into the evening to chat with friends. So when you’re camping, find a source of local firewood and continue your campfire traditions without harming the nearby trees. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.