Report: Firewood Changes Coming to Michigan State Parks?

Campers at Michigan State Park campgrounds might see new firewood policies in effect this season, according to a report published by

While rumors had circulated for years that the Michigan DNR, which oversees the state parks, would follow the lead of other states and prohibit people from bringing any firewood into the campgrounds, it looks as if the DNR will not initiate that rule.

Instead, in an article posted this morning (April 2), MLive's Tanda Gmiter wrote that the DNR is focused this year on "improving the firewood being offered at the parks."

According to the article, firewood sold at the state parks will be sourced from within 50 miles, it will be larger – which I hope means no more thin strips of pine bark – or it will be "certified" firewood, meaning it is kiln-dried and has killed any invasive species it might have contained.

"The aim is two-fold" Gmiter wrote, "Create happier campers by offering better bundles in the park, and keep up the pressure on stopping invasive species that can hitchhike onto state land via firewood. These pests can decimate trees wherever they set up their news homes."

So, instead of an outright ban, the DNR is hoping campers will voluntarily purchase better quality firewood from the state park campgrounds rather than bring their own.

This is good, but is it good enough?

As someone who recently sat in on an Invasive Species seminar, anything state officials and campers can do to prevent the spread of the harmful diseases and insects can only be a good thing.

The seminar was conducted by Joanne Foreman, who is the communications coordinator for the DNR's Invasive Species Program as well as the owner of Rivergate Family Campground on the Thornapple River just outside Hastings. The seminar was part of the Michigan Association of RV Park and Campgrounds Owners of Michigan (ARVC Michigan) in late March.

Suffice to say, Foreman painted a bleak picture of how invasive species can devastate an environment. Exhibit A: The Emerald Ash Borer, which despite voluntary firewood restrictions has managed to wipe out 30 million ash trees just in southeast Michigan since 2002. All of the Lower Peninsula, and most of the Upper Peninsula, remain in quarantine that restricts the movement of firewood and wood products.

But she also mentioned a host of other invasive species that pose just as much of a threat to trees, plant and animal life and waterways. Despite their best efforts Foreman made it sound as if it's a matter and when, and not if, at least some of these invasive species will spread statewide.

So what's the answer? We all need to do our part. Don't bring your own firewood (unless it's certified). Buy it at the park.