Michigan's Department of Natural Resources reminds you to do your part to stop the spread of oak wilt!

Photo: David McNew, Getty Images

It's bonfire season and that means outdoor fun, but here's something to keep in mind.

Invasive species seem to be a problem each year and this time the culprit is oak wilt disease. It can be found in our backyards, killing the trees that shade our state campgrounds, and infecting the mighty oaks that line our state forest trails.

Michigan's Department of Natural Resources has rules for you to help limit the spread of oak wilt disease.

  • Don’t prune or injure oak trees during the growing season – now through July 15. As warmer weather arrives, the beetles that move oak wilt become active. Oak wilt spreads during this time of year as beetles move spores from fungal fruiting structures on the trees killed last year by oak wilt to wounds on healthy oaks.
  • Don’t move firewood! Spring is a popular time for people to move firewood to vacation properties and other locations. It's vital not to move wood from oak wilt-killed trees because it could result in new infections. It’s good practice never to move wood of any type because you don’t know if bugs or diseases are hiding under the bark.
  • If you suspect you have oak wilt-infected firewood, cover it with a plastic tarp all the way to the ground, leaving no openings. This keeps the beetles away and generates heat inside the tarp, helping to speed drying and prevent spores from forming. Once the bark loosens on the firewood, the disease can no longer be spread.

Buy it where you burn it to protect Michigan's forests!