Don’t move firewood: reasons, responsibilities and regulations


A long time ago I brought a giant bag of firewood cut on my property to a picnic 99 miles away.  Today, that would be in violation of environmental regulations in my state (NY).  First, my wood was not certified kiln dried (heat treated), so I was not allowed to transport it more than 50 miles.  Second, if it had been within 50 miles, for my home-cut wood I would need a Self-Issued Certificate of Source (PDF) (in NY).  Store-bought untreated wood must be labelled or have other proof of its source within 50 miles, such as a purchase receipt, invoice or bill of lading.  Similar regulations apply in other states.

It’s serious business.  For example: in New York, state environmental police set up road checkpoints to look for people transporting wood more than 50 miles without a certificate or proof of source.  A press release gave an example of this enforcement practice:

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Handy bags help you leave the forest better than you found it

Given the Sylvabiota mission and motto, “Leaving forests better than we found them,” the message in these pictures is obvious, but we have a few comments to warm up its reception.

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Free Online Environmental Education Courses at University of Wisconsin in 2015

Tree-MOOC-postBeginning in 2015, the University of Wisconsin will offer six free, non-credit Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) on “a shared theme of sustainability and the environment,” says a UW-Madison News article, adding to more than forty existing online courses in the school’s Continuing Studies program, some offering professional certifications or CEUs (Continuing Education Units).

Detailed descriptions seem to be not available yet, but the article lists the new courses as (ones of special interest to Sylvabiota highlighted in green):

  • Understanding Aldo Leopold’s Legacy, taught by Timothy Van Deelen, associate professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, Janet Silbernagel, professional programs director and professor of landscape architecture and environmental studies, and Paul Robbins, professor and director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.
  • Changing Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region, taught by Steven Ackerman, professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences, and Margaret Mooney, senior outreach specialist for the Space Science and Engineering Center.
  • Energy and the Earth, taught by Alan Carroll, professor of geoscience.
  • Forests and Humans, taught by Tom Gower, professor, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology.
  • Virtual Shakespeare, taught by Jesse Stommel, assistant professor, Department of Liberal Studies and the Arts, Sarah Marty, faculty associate, Department of Liberal Studies and the Arts, and R L Widmann, associate professor of English at the University of Colorado Boulder.
  • Climate Change and Public Health, taught by Jonathan Patz, professor and director of the Global Health Institute.

For more information about Aldo Leopold, one of Sylvabiota’s heroes, the Aldo Leopold page at is a good place to start.

Copyright © 2014 Sylvabiota™

The Wilderness Act is 50 years old and getting stronger all the time!

In our comprehensive celebration of the Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary, we must begin with this stunning video from the National Park Service, America’s Wilderness.  It uses astounding video of our U.S. wilderness area, natural sounds, and beautiful music to present the definition of wilderness established in the National Wilderness Preservation System Act of 1964 (PDF).

16 U.S. C. 1131-1136 Section 2(c) DEFINITION OF WILDERNESS.  A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain. An area of wilderness is further defined to mean in this Act an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions and which (1) generally appears to have been affected primarily by the forces of nature, with the imprint of man’s work substantially unnoticeable; (2) has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation; (3) has at least five thousand acres of land or is of sufficient size as to make practicable its preservation and use in an unimpaired condition; and (4) may also contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value. – Wilderness Act, Public Law 88-577 (16 U.S. C. 1131-1136). September 3, 1964

Listen to a recording ( of President Lyndon Johnson’s speech given upon his signing the Act into law.  It’s not just political.  It’s instructive about historic conservation movements all around the country since Teddy Roosevelt.

We have a profound fundamental need for areas of wilderness… within which we stand without our mechanisms that make us immediate masters over our environment. – Howard Zahniser, activist and principal author of the Wilderness Act

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Forest Immersion for Human Health

You come out of the woods better than you went in.  That’s a good reason to leave forests better than you found them.  The science is clear:

Being in the forest is good for your health.

“Spending time in forests makes us healthier,” says the article, Immerse Yourself in a Forest for Better Health published by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC).

The article includes a huge list of scientific study and research documents on the topic of human health benefits from forest and other outdoor activities.

From the article:


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Rare type of New England cinquefoil wildflower rescued from brink of extinction

In their blog, Conserving the Nature of the Northeast, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Northeast) announced “the first plant recovered under the Endangered Species Act.”

Article excerpt, link, photos and more …

cinquefoil-robbins-USFWS picture

Robbins Cinquefoil (Potentilla robbinsiana). Photo: US Fish & Wildlife Service (public domain)

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Naturalists after your heart, mind and belly

Forests inspire caring.  They are their own inspiration for our universal inner naturalist.  Still, education is a must when it comes to learning to leave our forests better than we found them.  The education comes in many forms, but the most powerful one is immersion in forest experiences.  Simple presence.  The deeper and longer we invest time in the forest, the more we naturally understand and appreciate the joys of leaving it better than we found it.  It’s built into our DNA to be that way.

It doesn’t have to be about altruism or nobly saving the planet.  You can leave forests better than you found them just for the fun and joy of doing it, because it’s the natural thing to do, once you let the forest inspire you.

Some special people are great catalysts for our education and inspiration.  Like who?

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Help from Eckhart Tolle and Sitka National Historic Park

When you walk through a forest that has not been tamed and interfered with by man, you will see not only abundant life around you, but you will also encounter fallen trees and decaying trunks, rotting leaves and decomposing matter at every step.  Wherever you look, you will find death as well as life.

Upon closer scrutiny, however, you will discover that the decomposing tree trunk and rotting leaves not only give birth to new life, but are full of life themselves.  Microorganisms are at work.  Molecules are rearranging themselves.  So death isn’t to be found anywhere.  There is only the metamorphosis of life forms.  What can you learn from this?

Death is not the opposite of life.  Life has no opposite.  The opposite of death is birth.  Life is eternal.

~ Eckhart Tolle from Stillness Speaks


Explore Sitka National Historic Park (U.S. National Park Service) – “On an island amid towering spruce and hemlock, Sitka National Historical Park preserves the site of a battle between invading Russian traders and indigenous Kiks.ádi Tlingit; park visitors are awed by Tlingit and Haida totem poles standing along the park’s scenic coastal trail; and the restored Russian Bishop’s House speaks of Russia’s little known colonial legacy in North America.”

Please suggest a web link relating to
“leaving forests better than we found them”
that you enjoyed recently
… or one you CREATED recently!

We welcome contributing/guest authors.

National Public Lands Day – Volunteer Opportunities

From the National Public Lands Day website:

What is National Public Lands Day?You can click on this photo to bring up the original which may be larger and higher quality but may also take longer to load.

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. In 2013, the 20th Anniversary of National Public Lands Day will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28.

Join volunteers of all ages for NPLD’s 20th Anniversary. Celebrate with volunteers in your community at parks and other public lands. Visit our special #NPLD20 webpages for more details.

English: PINE FLAT LAKE, Calif. (Sept. 26, 200...

… NPLD began in 1994 with three sites and 700 volunteers. It proved to be a huge success and became a yearly tradition, typically held on the last Saturday in September. Since the first NPLD, the event has grown by leaps and bounds.

In 2012, about 175,000 volunteers worked at 2,206 sites in every state, the District of Columbia and in many U.S. territories. 2012 was the biggest NPLD in the history of the event.     Read more about it or find a site in your area.

Arizona Firefighting Hotshot Crew Takes the Heat All the Way to the End

Hotshots_USFS_page-headerFirst, some background …

To understand more about the 19 Hotshot crew members (who are not only firefighters) who lost their lives in the Arizona Yarnell Hill wildfire on June 30, 2013 we asked, “What is a hotshot crew?”  According to the U.S. Forest Service Hotshots website,

Interagency Hotshot Crews (IHC) are diverse teams of career and temporary agency employees who uphold a tradition of excellence and have solid reputations as multi-skilled professional firefighters.   Ninety crews are available for the 2001 fire season, employed by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, various Native American tribes,Hotshots_USFS_FAM-logo and the states of Alaska and Utah. Their physical fitness standards, training requirements, operation procedures are consistent nationwide, as outlined in the Standards for Interagency Hotshot Crew Operations. Their core values of “duty, integrity, and respect” have earned Hotshot crews an excellent reputation throughout the United States and Canada as elite teams of professional wildland firefighters.

Hotshot Crews started in Southern California in the late 1940s on the Cleveland and Angeles National Forests. The name was in reference to being in the hottest part of fires. Their specialty is wildfire suppression, but they are sometimes assigned other jobs, including search and rescue and disaster response assistance. Hotshots not busy fighting fire will also work to meet resource goals on their home units through thinning, prescribed fire implementation, habitat improvement or trail construction projects.

Hotshots_USFS_headshot… Hotshots must also participate in physical fitness and conditioning programs and pass the Work Capacity Test at the Arduous level. The Arduous level fitness test requires the individual to perform a three-mile hike with a 45 pound pack in 45 minutes.

… All crews require that personnel be available 24-hours per day, 7 days a week during the fire season, which typically last six months. Fire assignments may require IHC members to be away from home for several weeks at a time. The crews travel, primarily in the West, by truck, van or plane. To get to the more remote fire sites, crews either hike or are flown in by helicopter. Crew members pack all the water and supplies needed for work shifts that frequently exceed eight hours, and may be 12 hours or longer. Crews sleep on the ground and are lucky to get a shower every couple of days.

Most hotshot crew positions are seasonal, with employment from May through October. Employment is occasionally available during the pre- and post-season depending on weather and financing. For more information on the Hotshot program, contact the Hotshot crew you are interested in working with. For more information see the links below or contact your nearest Forest Service office.

IHC index: Map and index to crews by Geographic Area.
IHC detailed contact information, including crew addresses, superintendent’s name, phone number, e-mail link and Web site links.

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Forest Fire Prevention Spokesperson Bob Hope born May 29, 1903

Bob Hope in 1986. Photo by Allan Warren (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, so if you’re under the age of 50, maybe you’re scratching your head, wondering, “Who is Bob Hope?”  Most famously a comedian and comic actor, he was also a great fan of many sports, and a prominent golfer, who championed the game as a player and promoter.  He played in as many as 150 charity tournaments each year.

The World Golf Hall of Fame has a biographical website dedicated to Hope at  He said, “Golf is my profession. I tell jokes to pay my green fees.”  He wrote a book on his golfing life that was on the NY Times best seller list for 53 weeks.

On the website, take a trip down the memory lane of a comic legend:

Bob Hope Bio          Joke Page

    About Dolores          Entertaining Troops

So what does this iconic American have to do with forests?

See the article in the Forest History Society (FHS) archives (blog): May 29, 1903: Bob “Forest History” Hope was Born | Peeling Back the Bark, by Jamie “Mad B-Logger” Lewis.  There you can learn about Hope’s service to forest life (with historic pictures) as:

  • Bob Hope and Bing Crosby...spokesperson (with Bing Crosby) in the Advertising Council’s “The Campaign to Prevent Forest, Woods, and Range Fires in 1948″ booklet sent out to magazines and newspapers
  • an impromptu appearance with a forest fire prevention poster of Woody, an animated section of log character used in a forest industry public service campaign in the 1940’s
  • on his popular TV show in 1954 Hope hosted his guest Paul Searls, “the living Paul Bunyan” and advocate of tree farming, among other roles Searls had in the forest industry

About the FHS in their words: “The Forest History Society is a nonprofit library and archive dedicated to collecting, preserving, and disseminating forest and conservation history for all to use. The Society links the past to the future while reminding us about our important forest heritage.”

Subscribe to Peeling Back the Bark (, the official blog of the FHS for articles of interest to forest lovers.

Related article:

Green Everett Partnership Seeks Volunteer Forest Stewards


Green City Partnerships

The Green Everett Partnership is now recruiting volunteer Forest Stewards to implement restoration projects and lead groups of volunteers to rebuild healthy native plant communities within Everett’s forested parks and natural areas. Everett Parks NHowarth Park Group shot 01262013 Joanna Nelsoneed You!

  • Join a Team of Volunteer Leaders
  • Learn about ecological restoration
  • Lead your own active, fun project at a park
  • Get support from trained staff
  • Help other volunteers get involved
  • Impact the park’s environmental health
  • No Experience necessary.
  • All materials, training and support provided by the program.

New Forest Steward Orientation
Saturday May. 18th 9am-noon
Forest Park, Lions Hall – 802 E. Mukilteo Blvd, Everett, WA
For more information contact:  or call 425-238-0065

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American Forests – Protecting and Restoring Forests

Among our efforts to leave forests better than we found them, we can join and/or support organizations with similar or related missions.

Introduction to American Forests organization Youtube video:

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Advice from Nature Mom and more

Take a “Signs of Fall” Walk | from the Nature Mom blog.  This applies in any season, of course.  See also Nature Mom’s posts about Signs of Spring.

A quote from Nature Mom’s (Linda) post:

Allow your child to lead the walk.  Give them the space and time to discover Autumn [or any time] on their own.  Explore the season with all senses, not just sight.

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Taking Action for George Washington National Forest & US Forest Service

Here’s something you can do to help leave the forests better than you found them.  In this case, “better” would mean allowing the U.S. Forest Service to follow through on its proposal to protect the George Washington National Forest from toxic activity.  In a situation like this, “better” may also mean our being better informed, more aware, more interested (hey, even more interesting!).

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