On January 1, 2011, a new regulation went into effect in Iowa requiring that anyone who sells or distributes firewood in the state must have it labeled with the county and state of origin. The county of origin means where the wood was harvested and not the mailing address of the seller. The labeling requirement applies to both packaged firewood and bulk firewood. The bulk firewood harvest location can be included on the delivery ticket. This rule applies to any length of tree that has been cut and intended for burning.
Iowa firewood labeling requirements now include the following:
- the identity of the wood, whether all one species or mixed (i.e., 50% ash, 50% oak)
- the net quantity in cubic feet or cubic meters (a cord is 128 cu. ft.)
- the name and address of the manufacturer or distributor
- the unit price
- and the county and state where the wood was harvested.
Details of the labeling requirements are available from the Iowa Dept of Agriculture & Land Stewardship Entomology & Plant Science Bureau (515-725 – 1470) and the ISU Extension Pest Management website.
The new labeling requirement is one of many ongoing efforts to limit or stop the spread of several bad, and some very bad tree pests. For example, emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive species that readily infests and kills ash trees, and is a significant threat to the millions of ash trees in Iowa. The long distance spread of EAB has been through tranport of infested firewood, landscape trees, and ash logs and wood products. Along with the new firewood labeling requirement other activities to slow the spread of EAB include campground and park regulations prohibiting firewood brought in from outside and voluntary citizen compliance with the "Buy Local, Burn Local" and "Buy It Where You Burn It!" campaigns.
EAB adults and other injurious insect pests and diseases can move very few miles on their own each year. However, transport of logs, firewood and wood products can easily carry pests and diseases into new areas in the time it takes to drive across the state. Other invasive insect pests that can be transported in firewood include Sirex wood wasp, Asian longhorned beetle, gypsy moth, as well as plant pathogens causing beech bark disease, sudden oak death, thousand cankers disease of walnut, and oak wilt.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources staff will be checking firewood bundles at retail sales outlets for the new labeling. In the meantime, please do your part: do not carry firewood from place to place, buy it where you burn it, and burn firewood as soon as possible.