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Kentucky Afield Report

Nashville District Firewood Policy

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District announces a new firewood policy is now in effect, and seeks the public’s cooperation to prevent the spread of forest insects and disease at campgrounds in the Cumberland River Basin.

The new firewood policy requires visitors at the Nashville District’s recreation areas, primitive campsites and 25 campgrounds to use only firewood that has been certified as heat-treated by U.S. Department of Agriculture or state natural resource agency.The new firewood policy requires visitors at Nashville District’s recreation areas, primitive campsites and 25 campgrounds to use only firewood that has been certified as heat-treated by U.S. Department of Agriculture or state natural resource agency.

Damaging forest pests such as the emerald ash borer are being spread by the movement of firewood.  The insect has damaged or killed millions of ash trees in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado, Georgia and Louisiana. The Nashville District is cooperating with other state and federal natural resource management agencies to impede the movement of invasive species, including the Emerald Ash Borer, by the transport of firewood to public lands.

If someone attempts to enter a Corps recreation area or campground with firewood that is not “Certified Heat – Treated,” that person will not be allowed entry. The Corps may provide a refund of camping fees within the usual limitations. Visitors who make it into a campground and are caught burning unapproved firewood would receive warnings or citations.

“The 2017 recreation season is a year of transition and education about the Corps’ firewood policy,” said Bobby Jackson, Nashville District Natural Resources specialist.Verbal or written warnings will likely be issued for the majority of discoveries. Citations could be issued to address especially difficult situations.”

Jackson said the staff at www.recreation.gov, where camping reservations are made online and via telephone, will distribute information as well about the firewood policy. “Every effort is being made to inform and educate visitors to alleviate frustration regarding the new firewood policy,” Jackson said.  

Questions & Answers

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Answer: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District requires visitors of its recreation areas, primitive campsites and 25 campgrounds in the Cumberland River Basin to use only firewood that has been certified as heat-treated by U.S. Department of Agriculture or state natural resource agency.  The Nashville District seeks the public’s cooperation with its new firewood policy to prevent the movement of forest insects and disease.

Answer: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander approved the new firewood policy Feb. 17, 2017.

Answer: Damaging forest pests such as the emerald ash borer are being spread by the movement of firewood.  The insect has damaged or killed millions of ash trees in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Maine, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Arkansas, Kansas, Colorado, Georgia and Louisiana. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is cooperating with other state and federal natural resource management agencies to impede the movement of invasive species, including the Emerald Ash Borer, by the transport of firewood to public lands the district manages in the Cumberland River Basin within the states of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Answer: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is distributing information about the new firewood policy on its website, social media pages and through the media with a news release.  The public is also being informed about the new firewood policy when making camping reservations on www.recreation.gov. Anyone who made a camping reservation prior to the implementation of the new firewood policy will be notified by www.recreation.gov. In addition, signs are being posted about the new policy at all Corps of Engineers campgrounds in the Cumberland River Basin.  Every effort is being made to inform and educate visitors to alleviate frustration regarding the new firewood policy. 

Answer: Visitors are good to go that show up with firewood that has been certified as heat-treated by U.S. Department of Agriculture or state natural resource agency. Campers should only burn Certified Heat – Treated Firewood, Fire logs, kiln-dried, unpainted, unstained dimensional lumber that is free of any metal or foreign substance, or dead and downed branches in the area adjacent to the campsite.

Answer: If someone attempts to enter a Corps recreation area or campground with firewood that is not “Certified Heat – Treated,” that person will not be allowed entry. The Corps may provide a refund of camping fees within the usual limitations. The ability of a visitor to surrender firewood that is not certified is solely at the discretion of the lake resource manager according to the Nashville District's firewood policy.

Answer: The 2017 recreation season is a year of transition and education about the Corps’ firewood policy. Verbal or written warnings will likely be issued for the majority of discoveries. Citations with fines could be issued to address especially difficult situations.  In addition, Corps staff will strive to remain alert to identify any firewood that originated from a quarantined or regulated area and promptly report the information to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). If a violation of the Federal quarantine for a regulated article is detected, it should be referred to USDA APHIS at 866-322-4512.

Answer: The public can locate approved firewood vendors in Kentucky, Tennessee and other states at http://firewoodscout.org. A listing on this site should not be construed as an approval, recommendation, or referral for any business, service, or product. Remember to only purchase firewood that has been certified as heat-treated by U.S. Department of Agriculture or state natural resources agency. Please also note that while the site referenced for finding a vendor may not always provide sufficient sources of kiln-dried firewood, an online searches reveal other sources such as The Home Depot, Walmart, Lowe's, and others. The mention of these stores does not imply endorsement. The wood's packaging just has to include its USDA certification. 

Movement of firewood has been implicated in the spread of gypsy moth, Dutch elm disease, emerald ash borer, thousand cankers disease of walnut, Asian longhorned beetle, Sirex wood wasp, goldspotted oak borer and other native and non-native insect and disease complexes. Some of these pests have life cycles that live in or on wood while others produce fungal spores that can be transported on firewood.  You can learn more about invasive species at http://www.dontmovefirewood.org/invasive-species/

Certified heat-treated firewood is a high-quality hardwood product that lights easily, burns very well for campfires, is safe to cook over, and is already sold at many locations. The heat treatment kills insects and pathogens that may be in the wood. The current standard for emerald ash borer is 60º Celsius (140º F) for 60 minutes and it is considered effective on a number of pests. Kiln dried is a similar term but there are no time/temperature standards for the term.

Insects and diseases may be present in an area for several years before anyone notices them and a quarantine is established. The heat treatment used for certified firewood kills insects and pathogens that may be present, making the wood safe for use at Corps Lakes and campgrounds.  While a ban on the importation of non-treated firewood will not entirely halt the spread of destructive forest pests and diseases, it will greatly slow it down. This allows time to develop and implement treatment strategies that may control the impacts from these non-native pests and diseases. 

Without being physically transported, non-native invasive species, might never reach a new host tree or they would take much longer to get here on their own. At the beginning of the emerald ash borer infestation in Michigan, it was estimated that insects could move 15 miles per year on their own. However, new infestations were found up to 150 miles away from known infestation sites due to movement of infested wood.

The Corps of Engineers has joined many other federal and state agencies that are attempting to slow the spread of the pests that threaten our forests. These include the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee State Parks and others.

The Nashville District had to close Lillydale Campground at Dale Hollow Lake for the entire 2001 recreation season when an army of southern pine beetles infested 1,200 Loblolly pine trees. Another 300 pines were removed from nearby Willow Grove Campground. It has taken nearly two decades for the hardwoods to grow to provide shade for campers and the Corps doesn't want a repeat of that infestation. 

The Corps seeks the public's cooperation to protect the natural resources that visitors enjoy every recreation season.

The Corps of Engineers does not sell certified firewood. In some rare cases, the Corps might sell firewood that was cut down on site at a Corps project. While the site referenced for finding a vendor may not provide sufficient sources of kiln-dried firewood, online searches reveal other sources such as The Home Depot, Walmart, Lowe's, and others. The mention of these stores does not imply endorsement. The wood's packaging just has to include its USDA certification. 

Movement of firewood has been implicated in the spread of gypsy moth, Dutch elm disease, emerald ash borer, thousand cankers disease of walnut, Asian longhorned beetle, Sirex wood wasp, goldspotted oak borer and other native and non-native insect and disease complexes. Some of these pests have life cycles that live in or on wood while others produce fungal spores that can be transported on firewood. You can learn more about invasive species at http://www.dontmovefirewood.org/invasive-species/

Propane fire pits are permissible under Title 36 327.10 section b.