Don’t give a free ride to invasive insects
You may think you’re doing the environment a favor by packing in your own firewood when visiting Cook Forest. Please think again. Dead wood—whether from trees cut down in your backyard or scraps of wood from a mill—really isn’t dead. It can harbor living organisms that are deadly to the forest.
Take, for example, the Asian Longhorned Beetle. This little pest was discovered in 1996 on several hardwood trees in Brooklyn, New York. It is believed to have reached the U.S. aboard wood pallets and other wood packing material from Asia. It quickly spread to Long Island, Queens, and Manhattan. In 1998, a separate introduction of the beetle was discovered on trees in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. Beetles have also been detected in New Jersey. Aggressive measures are being used to control this beetle, because American hardwood forests have no defense against this pest, which fortunately has been limited to urban locations.
But that’s not the case with other tree-eating pests. There are about 350,000 named species of beetles, which means there are many more kinds of beetles than species of plants!
Fortunately, most don’t do damage to Pennsylvania forests. But another import – the Emerald Ash Borer – is a serious problem.
The Emerald Ash Borer is a wood-boring beetle native to China. This pest has destroyed more than 20 million ash trees in Ohio, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, and Indiana. Consequently, the Pa. Dept. Of Agriculture has imposed a quarantine against bringing firewood into Cook Forest and into Alleghany, Beaver, Butler and Lawrence counties. The quarantine also applies to ash lumber, logs, stumps, all hardwood wood chips, bark. (Kiln dried wood bearing a manufacturer’s stamp is exempt.)
This beetle is just the latest in a growing list of pest problems, which include the gypsy moth, sirex wood wasp, and the pine shoot beetle, a European import first discovered in on a Christmas tree farm near Cleveland, Ohio.
So please do yourself and Cook Forest a favor—buy your firewood from suppliers using indigenous wood. It’s the environmentally friendly way to keep the door closed to a host of free-loading pests looking for free lunch in Cook Forest.