Is it OK to move firewood from a diseased American Elm?  Will live trees at the destination be put at new risk or is the risk level unchanged?

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I should's already debarked....

As a quick response, I'll venture that moving the wood likely won't be a problem.  That said, the unknowns are (1) if the native elm bark beetle and the smaller European elm bark beetle have a place to reside on the firewood and (2) who widespread the disease is in the area where the wood will go.

I should qualify this response as a non-entomological response.  Hopefully others will weigh-in. 

Here is a link on ID and management   This states that if the tree is de-barked it is not attractive to bark beetles.  The bark beetles are attracted to dead and dying elm trees, so a recently dead elm might be a host site.  The insects bore into the bark and lay eggs in the inner bark with the larval galleries appearing on the surface of the wood.  A well-dead tree without bark presumably would lack the insect.  If the tree has been without bark for at least one growing season, without bark all of 2015, the risk seems reduced. If you are uncertain, you could play it safe and block the wood, stack on site until next (2016) late summer or fall to move.

The next question is really a cost:benefit analysis.  If you're moving the elm firewood to an area with few elms and no recent mortality, the consequence of bringing the insect or fungus is more significant than if you take the firewood to an area with lots of elms and elm death is a common phenomenon.  In the former case, you might have a refuge and some elm trees that haven't been found by the beetle.

Added to the conversation is that there are two fungi that cause Dutch Elm Disease (DED) and another separate pathogen associated with Elm Yellows (EY) or elm phloem necrosis.  Here is a link on DED & EY  My memory is that EY is more widespread and attacks younger elm trees than DED...thus more problematic. The link suggest the opposite for the distribution, but geographic data is from 1975. The vector of EY is a leaf hopper, so a standing dead tree would seemingly not be a source of the vector.

How far are you thinking of moving it? I'm far from an expert in this area, but if you are talking about moving it from one end of your property to the other (and your lot is not absolutely huge), my bet is that the added risk is minimal. If one end of a 100 acre parcel has whatever bug or blight you are concerned about, it's likely the other end does as well, or soon will whether you move the wood or not. If you are moving the firewood miles away, that move may become the vector for the spread of the problem.

As I said, however, I'm no expert. I would defer to Peter or others on here who are more up on this than I am.

John raises a good point on distance of movement.  NYS prohibits movement of untreated firewood further than 50 miles from the source.  Any movement of firewood from the property of origin needs to have a "certificate of source" that states the date, supplier, recipient, and volume of wood.

Details here 

Distance of movement would be within that specified by NYS regulation for untreated firewood, and not on the land where the tree grew.  This elm tree is about 18" dbh, the largest on the property, although there are a few more still alive at 14" dbh.  Lots standing dead at <10" dbh.  I'd like to make use of the firewood, but not at the risk of causing harm.

The wood shows many characteristic (European) elm bark beetle galleries, which is not generally consistent with EY.  The bark has been off completely for three years.  Thanks.

I'm guessing you are in good shape to move it then.

If it's American Elm, have fun splitting it. That stuff is a bear. Even on a hydraulic splitter I find myself monkeying with it to get that last inch or two apart that my splitter wedge doesn't travel.

I will point out to emphasize, most folks will qualify their answer to you with "I guess"  or, "should be OK". No one knows and you are best to judge, on site, information in head, willing or not to risk.  I have become a bit radical on this topic so you might want to stop here.

We (all of us in general) want our firewood where and when we want it and we enjoy the thought of our labor being enjoyed and, there could be an economic model for justifying us to produce and transport our wood.  However; (you knew this was coming. Right?) Please consider the following: NYS in all of its wisdom has a political bent and that is what dictated the 50 mile radius.  The State, is willing to risk spreads of various pests in 50 mile leaps. Even daily, I suppose. Now most people and most campers too, are not forest owners or not forest owners with a concern for generations ahead of forest growth. But in a broader sense, our forests are interconnected and maybe spread of introduced pests are inevitable. So, lets give up the fight and get what we want here and now.  Or, we can look at it from an immediate impact angle and say, what are we likely to do to our neighbor's forests now, today, this generation.  I'll take the Emerald Ash Borer as a case in point.

EAB flies. However; it flies weakly and prefers to find trees to infest close at hand (or wing if you prefer) and so we have seen where a single tree or a small group of trees are infested, re-infested and completely saturated with EAB until the tree dies.  Spread is a thing of necessity and convenience and not an instinctual migration.

If your woodlot is infested, my woodlot one mile away may not be and, barring human transport, may not be for ten years!  My Ash trees could be growing for ten years more before I'm forced to cut my Ash ahead of a planned harvest (because like all forest owners, I have a plan. Right?) So, if I ask real nice, can I appeal to your moral side and ask that, as a good neighbor you don't move your wood?  Not even one mile. OK?

Well, I'm a realist too so, I know we (me too) will move wood.  Please, (this is my point) be so very careful and be sure you need to move it and not just want to.  I am reminded often that one professor pointed out the hundreds and even thousands of dollars people spend on camping as a fun time in the woods, but feel they need to save $8 to $20 dollars on camp fire wood.

Be well, friends. I'll get off the soap box now.



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