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Ash borer concerns prompt Scott County firewood restrictions

As camping season heats up for the end of summer, Scott County is banning firewood from outside the county.

That’s unless it contains proper state and USDA labeling. Campers may also use firewood that was cut themselves within Scott County.

Restrictions aim at preventing the spread of the emerald ash borer.

The crackle of the campfire is a symbol of the season. It’s a favorite event for Don Kintz.

“We sat out until about 10 o’clock last night around the campfire,” he recalled.

The Bettendorf man spends a lot of time at Scott County Park. But as the emerald ash borer inches closer, there are new restrictions on firewood that take effect on August 27.

“Anything they can do to keep it from entering the county is good for everybody,” Kintz said.

Scott County Park Manager Dave Ong showed us proper firewood.

“We know that we’re not passing on the bug,” he said.

It’s clearly labeled and available at the park entrance. Since people are transporting the emerald ash borer through infected wood, they’re banning unlabeled items from outside Scott County.

“We want to be patient,” he said. “We want to be polite. We want to be educating.”

Campers like Don Kintz understand the reason behind the move. It’s all about protecting the environment.

“It just keeps working its way closer to Scott County,” Kintz said. “It’s not very far away right now.”

Scott County Park features many ash trees. Rangers will help campers adapt to the new regulations.

For campers like Ben Vittori, it seems to make a lot of sense.

“Trees like these back here take a long time to grow,” he said. “You can’t replace them tomorrow.”

It will take a blend of education and enforcement. But campers understand the need to save the forest.

“It’s something that’s going to be a headache for everybody,” Kintz concluded.

Yet at this campfire, it’s just the natural thing to do.