“Firewood Buddy,” a smart-phone application developed by Oregon Sea Grant to inform campers about the risks of bring invasive insects into Oregon forests on imported firewood, is going national.
Developed last year in collaboration with the Oregon Invasive Species Council, the free application not only educates users about how potentially invasive, forest-damaging species can hitch rides on firewood brought to campsites from outside areas, but also includes links to local firewood vendors on the Oregon coast and in Washington, Idaho and northern California. The app also features tips about the burning characteristics of different kinds of wood, building campfires, camping checklists and other information.
This week, the council announced that the application has migrated to DontMoveFirewood.org for national use and distribution. The state of California and the Bureau of Land Management will soon begin downloading lists of firewood vendors to the application, and plans are to continue expanding the database to cover all regions of the US.
The new national application is expected to be added to the iPhone and Android app stores in time for Memorial Day weekend. The original version covering Oregon, Washington and northern California, meanwhile, remains available (see links below) for free download.
Sam Chan, Oregon Sea Grant’s invasive species specialist, called the expansion timely. “The Memorial Day weekend is typically the start of a busy camping season,” Chan said. “One of the most important things we can do to protect our forests and landscapes from damage caused by invasive pests and diseases that hitchhike on firewood is to not move firewood to new areas.
“It’s really that simple: Don’t move firewood. Buy it local, and burn it local.”
The mobile application resulted from a 2009-11 research and education campaign Sea Grant undertook with invasive species councils in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. A joint “buy it where you burn it” education campaign ensued to encourage people not to buy or gather firewood near their campouts, picnics and other outdoor activities rather than bringing it along from elsewhere. Surveys before and after the campaign showed that, while nearly 40% of campers surveyed said they regularly brought firewood with them from outside the area, two-thirds of those who’d seen the educational material said they would change their behavior, including buying firewood locally. The research and education project was funded by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the application is being incorporated into a growing set of resources and tools by the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, a public-private partnership covering Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta.
Download the original Firewood Buddy