Firewood Alert in effect ahead of holiday camping weekend

Sioux Falls, SD (KSFY) Campsites at South Dakota's State Parks are fully booked this holiday weekend, kicking off a busy summer season. But if your plans include campsites in Minnehaha, Lincoln or Turner counties, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks have an important alert about firewood.

“We don't want anyone to bring in firewood that originated from the quarantine area,” Palisades State Park Supervisor Travis Theilen said.

The Emerald Ash Borer infestation has sparked a firewood alert, telling people not to move any lumber within the quarantine area.

“Potentially if a tree is dying in somebody's backyard and they take it down because of it, and they may not know why it is dying. It could be infected by the Emerald Ash Borer. And if they then chose to bring it out to the park for firewood for camping. What they are doing is that they are moving that insect,” Theilen said. “And that is the last thing we want to happen. We want to keep it away as long as possible. Our goal is not to get it. But in the end buying as much time is important.”

Palisades State Park has been preparing for the bug to hit the area for nearly 15 years. But Theilen said preventing the spread for even a few more years will give the newly planted trees time to mature.

“We do have replacements right next to them, where a lot of times we have a smaller tree in place growing. But obviously it’s not going to be the same size if we have to take the larger ash trees out,” Theilen said.

That’s why they're asking people to buy and use firewood directly at your campsite or purchase firewood that is certified pest free.

“If you are buying firewood from the convenience store typically that is purchased sometimes out of state, and it is certified firewood. There will be a label on the firewood that they are selling to let you know if it is certified firewood. If it is, it is okay to bring that into the park,” Theilen said.

Another important note, when you purchase firewood from campsites in the quarantine area, they must be used at the campsite. Officials don't want people to move any wood in the quarantine area for risk of spreading the bug.