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Empire, MI - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) is announcing a new firewood program established to protect park forests from invasive insect and diseases commonly spread through the transport of firewood. Movement of firewood from one area to another can rapidly spread destructive pests such as emerald ash borer, hemlock wooly adelgid, beech bark disease, and oak wilt. As in the past, the National Lakeshore is requesting that visitors not bring firewood into the park, and instead burn pest-free firewood available for purchase in park campgrounds. Dead and down wood may also be collected within the National Lakeshore boundaries. New to the program this year is voluntary firewood bagging. Campers unaware of the new policy who bring firewood into the campgrounds will be provided the option to store it in protective bags for the duration of their visit, and the park will provide them an equal amount of clean firewood at no cost. Superintendent Dusty Shultz noted "Our campers want to do what they can to protect the beautiful forests that make the National Lakeshore so special. By providing them with pest-free firewood alternatives, we expect the majority will plan to buy their firewood in the campgrounds or participate in the firewood bagging program." After this transition year, the National Lakeshore plans to formally ban any transport of firewood into park campgrounds. This ban would be effective January 2012.
This new firewood policy can help the National Lakeshore more effectively protect its trees from the fate of infected forests in other parts of the state. In addition to the National Lakeshore's new firewood policy, visitors should also be aware of the expanded quarantines the State of Michigan announced earlier this year. Michigan now prohibits the movement of all hardwood firewood and ash materials from anywhere in Michigan to several Great Lakes islands, including North and South Manitou Islands within the National Lakeshore. Quarantine violators can face fines and penalties.
For additional information, please contact Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Biologist Sue Jennings at 231-326-5134.