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Campers, firewood-vendors react to potential new firewood regulations

The DNR is working to reduce the movement of invasive species into Michigan State Parks and other DNR-managed lands.

MANISTEE COUNTY, Mi. (WPBN/WGTU) -- The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is looking to tighten firewood rules for Michigan State Parks as a way to control tree-killing diseases.

That means starting next year, the rules on where the firewood campers at state parks use for fires comes from may be a bit more strict.

The DNR is working to reduce the movement of invasive species into Michigan State Parks and other DNR-managed lands.

The department is proposing that campers either purchase firewood offered by an approved vendor at the campsite or bring their own wood that has been heat-treated for emerald ash borer, which is a way to kill any insects that may be inside the wood.

“I pick up sticks all over the place, in the park, across the roads free pallets,” said one camper staying at the Orchard Beach State Park in Manistee County. “I wouldn’t want to see it happen just because it’s a money maker, but if it's to stop the spread of these diseases and invasive pests then I guess I could embrace it.”
“We’ll usually buy it either at the campground or locally,” said another camper at the site. “We understand the impact that disease can bring to any area, so we understand if it’s to save the trees."

Some 'Mom-and-Pop’ vendors near Orchard Beach State Park have their concerns.

“I’ve had people come by and leave notes in my money box, thanking me, saying they’ve had a great time and the wood was great, I mean I enjoy it,” local veteran and wood vendor, Lance Miller said. "I don’t see what the real issue is with wood being cut locally within a 10-mile radius of the parks and burning it."

According to the DNR, the proposal will not require any vehicle or campsite inspections.

They are still figuring out how they will enforce the rule. DNR officials say they want to focus on the transition to the new rule if it’s approved – that may mean compensating wood bundles for campers who bring firewood that may not meet the standards.

The proposed policy has not been finalized, although some State Campgrounds have already implemented some changes.

According to the DNR, more than 500,000 trees have already been killed in Michigan state parks and millions of others outside of the parks.

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