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Nonprofits' message: Keep firewood close to home

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Native trees can defend themselves against native insects and diseases. But trouble ensues when non-native insects and diseases show up, hitching a ride on firewood transported from elsewhere.

"That’s What Tree Said" and "Tree shirts" are available for purchase on the "Don't Move" site – a humorous way to raise awareness about this issue.

“If you lived in New England 100 years ago, you’d lie awake worrying about gypsy moths. Now South Carolina worries about them. Something like this spreads quickly,” Ms. Greenwood says.

The leaf-munching Asian longhorned beetle is one of biggest threats to New England’s maple trees, threatening the fall foliage season. Restaurants, hotels, farm stands, and maple syrup distributors count on the annual tourism: Leaf peepers account for nearly $300 million in annual revenue in Vermont alone, according to the state's tourism and marketing department.

In Oregon the more than 700 licensed Christmas tree growers produce about 8 million trees a year. This year slugs are hitching rides to Hawaii on these Christmas trees. As a result, nearly half of the trees shipped to Hawaii are in quarantine.

In Pennsylvania, environmental officials have thus far contained the Asian longhorned beetle. But many other fast-moving pathogens and insects lurk, says Sven-Erik Spichiger, manager for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s entomology program.

“Eighty percent of Pennsylvania’s forests are oak. If a fast-moving pathogen or insect threatened them, well, it really staggers the mind to think about it,” Mr. Spichiger says. Sap beetles, which carry oak wilt, are one such fast-moving threat.

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