This summer, many people will be packing up the tent and sleeping bags to enjoy all of Colorado’s great camping locations, and the Colorado Department of Agriculture reminds outdoor enthusiasts to leave their firewood at home.
“Moving firewood across the state can contribute to tree mortality,” said Jeanne Ring, CDA’s cooperative agricultural pest survey coordinator. “Insects and diseases can be transported with the wood and can hurt or even kill Colorado’s forests.”
Native and non-native pests can have devastating effects on Colorado’s trees:
• The mountain pine beetle is a native pest that has reached epidemic levels in the past decade. People are encouraged to not take firewood from the mountains in order to keep the beetle from spreading to urban areas. As of 2014, the pest has impacted approximately 3.4 million acres in Colorado.
• The emerald ash borer was found in Boulder in September 2013. EAB only attacks ash trees in the genus Fraxinus, so mountain ash is not susceptible. Approximately 15 percent of the trees that make up Colorado’s urban forest are ash. There are an estimated 98,000 in the city of Boulder alone. The Denver metro area has an estimated 1.45 million ash trees. EAB is responsible for the death of millions of ash trees in the United States.
• The gypsy moth has defoliated thousands of acres of eastern and midwestern hardwood forests. This pest has made minor appearances in Colorado but has not yet developed an established population within the state.
One easy tip to help protect Colorado’s forests is to “Burn It Where You Buy It.” Campers are urged to buy their firewood at their destination, thus preventing the spread of any insects or diseases that can be found in or on the wood.