New regulations are in the works that would ban outside firewood from coming in to the Smokies unless purchased from a certified source. The proposed rule will be covered at the meeting. The public will have an opportunity to visit staffed information stations, ask questions and provide comments.
Tree-killing insects and diseases can unknowingly be transported in firewood carried in by visitors from other states. Over 30 species of hardwood trees native to the park are vulnerable to known pests that, if introduced, could cause widespread tree mortality that could devastate wildlife habitat, biodiversity and scenic views.
Past examples of this happening include the gypsy moth, Dutch elm disease, emerald ash borer, thousand canker disease, Asian long horned beetle, Sirex woodwasp and golden spotted oak borer.
The park is proposing to reduce the threat of forest pests by changing park regulations to allow only heat-treated firewood to be brought into the park. If the proposal is adopted, beginning in March 2015, only firewood that is bundled and displays a certification stamp by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or a state department of agriculture will be allowed for use in park campgrounds.
That means visitors would have to buy firewood from the campground or one of 80- plus stores around the park that sell certified firewood.
National parks throughout the Appalachian region have taken action to limit the spread of insect pests in firewood including, in many cases, the banning of imported firewood. An informational handout on the threat of pests hitchhiking on firewood was provided to all Smokies campers throughout the summer.
Located on U.S. 441 just inside the entrance to the park north of Cherokee.