SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) - With the arrival of spring, homeowners and gardeners are beginning the task of cleaning up their yards and gardens to prepare for the growing season. Spring also can bring rain and wind, knocking down branches and trees.
Gardeners, landscapers, and anyone working outside this spring should know that tree branches, firewood,and cleared brush can harbor invasive insects and diseases, making proper use or disposal critical to preventing the spread of tree-killing pests.
Pests can hitchhike undetected on firewood and brush, starting new infestations in locations hundreds of miles away. These infestations can destroy forests, lower property values and cost huge sums of money to control.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, estimates for damage costs in urban areas for just one invasive pest, the Asian longhorned beetle, range from $1.7 billion for nine selected cities to $669 billion for the entire United States.
“Even experts can’t always detect a couple of pin-head size insect eggs or a few microscopic fungus spores hidden in wood. However, these tiny threats are enough to destroy an entire forest,” said Leigh Greenwood, Don’t Move Firewood campaign manager.
“Disposing of tree debris, brush, and other yard waste either on site or through municipal composting are the best ways that homeowners can prevent spreading tree-killing pests as they clean up their yards and gardens this spring.”
Tips for spring cleanup:
• If you don’t want to keep your firewood until next winter, don’t be tempted to take it with you when camping, and don’t bring it along on any road trips. Instead, you can give it to your next-door neighbor, burn or chip it on site, or dispose of it locally.
• Hire a tree service or rent a tree chipper to shred fallen trees and branches and brush into mulch for your own garden beds and landscaping projects.
• Many areas now offer a yard waste recycling program. Contact your municipal solid waste management department for information specific to your area.
• If a yard waste recycling or composting program is not available and you cannot keep it on site, brush, logs, and branches should be disposed of in a local landfill.
• Take care to respect all state and local regulations on the movement of firewood and other unprocessed wood – some areas are subject to serious fines for violations.
• During your spring cleanup, if you notice an insect or tree disease you don’t recognize, take a photo or obtain a specimen of it, and compare it to website photos of the suspected pest.
To learn more about how to prevent forest pests from destroying forests, visit www.dontmovefirewood.org.