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Firewood Regulations

EAB Guidelines for Illinois Firewood Vendors

The USDA/APHIS/PPQ currently has the entire State of Illinois federally regulated (Quarantined) for Emerald Ash Borer, as it considers the entire State of Illinois to be generally infested. Federally regulated articles include Ash​ nursery stock and green lumber; any other Ash material including: logs, stumps, roots, branches, as well as composted and non-composted wood chips. Due to the difficulty in distinguishing between species of hardwood firewood, all hardwood firewood, including Ash, Oak, Maple and Hickory are regulated articles. 

What this means to firewood distributors or firewood producers, is that it is against quarantine regulations to move any hardwood firewood out of the State of Illinois. The USDA/APHIS/PPQ has four approved mitigation measures that allow for movement of firewood originating in the quarantine to be moved out of Illinois. They are as follows:

  1. Remove the bark and an additional 1/2 inch of the wood, or cambium layer. The bark and wood removed will be regulated separately.
  2. Follow a kiln drying treatment. The maximum thickness of allowable wood is three inches.
  3. Fumigate according to treatment schedule.
  4. Heat Treatment. 

Click here for additional info on USDA Guidelines: USDA Firewood Treatment Guidelines.

For the kiln drying treatment, the maximum allowable thickness of the wood is 3 inches and the procedure must meet the USDA moisture content guidelines heat treatment procedures: "may employ steam, hot water, kilns, or any other method that raises the temperature of the center of the wood to at least 160 F (71.1 C) and maintains the center temperature for at least 75 minutes". 

Bottom line - Kiln drying reduces the moisture content to an acceptable level and heat treatment raises the temperature of the wood to a critical temperature assuring EAB larvae will not survive. 

The USDA allows firewood originating in Illinois to move freely within Illinois, as per Illinois quarantine rules. The Illinois Department of Agriculture has an interior Emerald ash borer quarantine. 

Regulated articles by the Illinois Department of Agriculture are the same as the USDA/APHIS/PPQ. The Illinois Department of Agriculture does not allow movement of hardwood firewood originating in the interior quarantine to leave the interior quarantine unless the firewood meets one of the four federal mitigation measures. The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) allows firewood originating in the interior Illinois quarantine to move freely within the interior Illinois quarantine. However, IDOA urges that known (confirmed) infested Ash firewood be burned on or near the site of origin, and the transportation of this firewood be minimalized. 

Due to the facts known today about EAB, the IDOA strongly urges and recommends that firewood be produced, distributed, sold and burned locally. It is strongly recommended campers burn all firewood in their possession before they leave. EAB has proven extremely difficult to find or locate until it has been established at least three to five years, and in many cases longer. The IDOA strongly recommends anyone selling firewood in the regulated do so under a signed IDOA Emerald Ash Borer Agreement. By signing the agreement, one is stating they understand the risks of spreading EAB. I understand you have signed a compliance agreement and I commend you for that. 

EAB has been in the United States it is now believed since about 1990 or 1991. It was not confirmed until 2002. Sixty-nine million people live within a 350 mile radius of where EAB was confirmed in 2002. That allowed several million of the 69 million people within the 350 mile radius 11 years to move EAB all across the country before anyone was aware of EAB. We have confirmed EAB in nearly 200 municipalities or locations in Illinois within the IDOA interior quarantine in a little less than 5+ years. These confirmations are not just a tree here and there, but quite often hundreds, if not thousands in each location. Most of these confirmations have been possible due to outreach and education creating public awareness. One should expect continual new confirmations in the years to come across the entire state.

Trying to regulate or control a horse that has been out of the barn for 11 years or more is extremely difficult, maybe impossible when one looks at the success of our survey tools. To date, the best tools for survey for EAB have proven to be poor at best. We and all of our EAB counterpart states have heavily surveyed with these tools for two and three years now, and EAB keeps popping up in areas that were surveyed the following year. The National EAB Program mission and goals are no longer eradication. The mission has become one of managing Ash inventories for municipalities, entities, and private property owners. Good, sound management plans should allow the costs associated with this pest to spread out over more time. 

Educating our citizenry on the pest introduction risks associated with the movement of firewood and other products should be our ultimate goal. This is critical now, especially in Illinois where there likely will be millions of dead Ash over the next several years readily available for firewood and other uses.