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Roadside checkpoints to monitor illegal firewood transport in N.H.

  • Firewood Flickr user calliope—Creative Commons



Monitor staff
Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Residents of the state’s southern counties might think it savvy to bring their own firewood as they head north into the mountains for Memorial Day camping trips.

But that action could result in a fine of $124 as officials monitor illegal firewood transport this weekend, or even a misdemeanor penalty for a subsequent offense, said Douglas Miner, a forest ranger.

That’s because of the state’s firewood quarantine, which prohibits residents of the invasive insect-infected counties of Rockingham, Merrimack, Belknap and Hillsborough to transport untreated firewood outside that area. This effort is to prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer, a destructive beetle that targets ash trees first confirmed in New Hampshire in 2013.

The state’s Department of Resources and Economic Development announced Tuesday that it will police firewood transport with roadside checkpoints this weekend.

Miner said he’s legally unable to divulge the locations of the checkpoints.

“It is a similar process to follow as when DWI checkpoints are announced,” he said. “Essentially they are usually adjacent to major roads where signage directs vehicles with firewood to pull off into designated areas for inspection. If the firewood is found to be in violation of the quarantine, it will be confiscated and either a written warning or court summons issued.”

Wood that is certified as heat-treated to 160 degrees for 75 minutes is okay.

The state also has had a ban on untreated, out-of-state firewood since 2011, except with certain permissions.

Untreated firewood is a “major source” of the spread of damaging insects that can compromise healthy forests, officials said, with as many as 40 percent of out-of-state campers bringing firewood with them before the ban, according to forest rangers’ studies.

The average out-of-state log confiscated and studied by the Division of Forests and Lands had 35 insects, according to its website.

The state enacted the firewood quarantine in July 2015 in response to the presence of emerald ash borers, first spotted in Concord. The small, green bugs can kill ash trees within three to five years, and their larvae may be undetectable in firewood.

More information about the firewood quarantine can be found at nhdfl.org/forest-health/firewood.

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)