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October 18, 2011 > Keep California forests healthy, keep firewood local

Keep California forests healthy, keep firewood local

Submitted By Daniel Berlant

As part of a nationwide effort to encourage the public to buy and burn firewood locally, CAL FIRE and the California Firewood Task Force have launched a public outreach campaign to inform campers, wood cutters, arborists and the general public about the risks of long-distance movement of firewood.

"Firewood can carry insects and pathogens that may or may not be visible, making it impossible to know if you are transporting an invasive pest from one location to another when moving it," said CAL FIRE's Don Owen, Chair of the California Firewood Task Force. "Once an invasive species is established in a new area, it can do a lot of damage environmentally and economically as the trees in those areas have no natural defenses to fight off pest attack."

The multi-pronged Buy It Where You Burn It campaign includes surveying camper knowledge about invasive species and firewood in areas affected by the gold-spotted oak borer (an invasive beetle in San Diego County likely brought into the state on firewood), providing firewood posters to campgrounds and parks for posting in public locations, mailing information to industry professionals and offering educational Frisbees and playing cards to campers as a way to facilitate one-on-one interaction with campers while also providing them with useful information.

"As we increasingly become a global community, the movement of invasive pests and pathogens is becoming more frequent. Buying and burning wood locally is a simple way to help minimize the chances of spreading invasive species and it is something everyone can do with little impact," continued Owen, "The feedback gathered through the surveys will be useful for developing our long-term outreach campaign, helping us ensure we reach out to our audience as effectively as possible."

Made up of state, federal, and local agencies, as well as non-profit organizations, the California Firewood Task Force was established in November 2010 by the California Forest Pest Council.

For more about the Buy It Where You Burn It campaign, visit www.firewood.ca.gov.

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