DEM Announces Prohibition on the Movement of Firewood into Rhode Island Due to Invasive Insects Found in Neighboring States

DEM Press Release:

Campers and Vacationers Advised to use only Local Firewood

adult Asian Longhorned Beetle

PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management is responsible for the early detection and surveillance of exotic invasive insect pests and preventing the establishment of these pests into the state. The Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB), an invasive insect, has been detected in Massachusetts since 2008 and caused millions of dollars of damage and loss of trees within the natural environment. Recently another exotic invasive, the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), was detected in both Massachusetts and Connecticut.

In Rhode Island, DEM has been monitoring the environment for both EAB and ALB for the past several years, and to date, none have been found. The EAB infests all species of ash trees, while ALB infests a wide variety of hardwood tree species including maple, birch, elm, willow and ash, and could include other species.

To try to slow the spread of these insects, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), along with Massachusetts and Connecticut, have instituted quarantines where these insects have been found. Due to the spread of EAB throughout our two neighboring states, the movement of all hardwood firewood out of those states is restricted in order to prevent the spread of EAB to other non-infested states. Under the statewide quarantines currently in effect in Massachusetts and Connecticut, no one can move, transport, sell, buy or distribute firewood out of the quarantine areas.

What does this mean to Rhode Island firewood dealers and homeowners? If you sell or distribute firewood, you will not be able to obtain firewood from Massachusetts or Connecticut to sell or distribute into Rhode Island. If you are a homeowner, you cannot purchase or move any firewood from Massachusetts or Connecticut for any purpose into Rhode Island. Even if you own property in Rhode Island as well as in Massachusetts or Connecticut, you cannot move firewood in Rhode Island.

Here’s what is quarantined and cannot be moved outside the quarantine area:

  1. Firewood of all hardwood (non-conifer) species (firewood is wood smaller than 48 inches).
  2. All ash nursery stock.
  3. All ash lumber that has not been treated. (Proper ash wood treatments include removal of bark and 1/2 inch of wood, dry kiln sterilization, fumigation and heat treatments.)
  4. All ash green lumber and other ash material living, dead, cut or fallen, including logs, stumps, roots, branches and composted chips 1/2 inch or more in diameter.

No ash, living or dead, can be moved out of quarantine areas, unless it has been properly treated. Firewood is wood that is cut into pieces smaller than 4 feet.

As a result of the ALB infestation in Worcester and the quarantine affecting several counties in Massachusetts, there are also movement restrictions pertaining to hardwood tree species including the movement of firewood, which prohibits movement of all ALB host species, regardless of log size, from movement out of the quarantine area in Massachusetts.

As campers and other vacationers prepare for their upcoming getaways, DEM is urging them to refrain from transporting firewood to and from other areas, and to use only local firewood at their campsites and summer cottages.

Rhode Islanders should also be aware that they can spread local infestations of gypsy moth and Hemlock Wholly Adelgid hidden in their own firewood, and therefore should not transport it elsewhere. When potentially infested firewood is moved, any pests that emerge can seriously threaten the trees in the new community. You cannot tell just by looking whether or not a log is infested. Insects and diseases can be in or underneath the bark of infested logs, as well as on it.

For questions regarding the movement of firewood and/or logs or the quarantine protocol, please contact either Liz Duguay, DEM/Agriculture at 222-2718 ext. 4510 or Paul Ricard, DEM/ Forest Environment at 568-2248 ext.17.

The adult Asian Longhorned Beetle is a distinctive-looking insect with the following unique characteristics:

  • 1 inch to 1 ½ inches in length
  • Long antennae banded with black and white (longer than the insect’s body)
  • Shiny, jet black body with distinctive white spots
  • Six legs
  • May have blue feet