PEI

Firewood drop-off boxes added at P.E.I. entrances to stop spread of invasive species

A pilot project will see firewood disposal bins set up at the two main entry points to P.E.I. where visitors can safely get rid of firewood from off-Island and help stop the spread of invasive species.

Two bins set up to collect out of province firewood from visitors to P.E.I.

The firewood collected in the two drop-off locations will be safely incinerated at P.E.I. Energy Systems. (Submitted by Kassidy Matheson)

People arriving to P.E.I. with firewood from outside the province will have two new options to safely dispose of it to help keep invasive species from the Island.

A secure drop-off box has been set up at both the visitors centres in Gateway Village at Borden-Carleton, P.E.I., and at Wood Islands, P.E.I.

The two boxes were put in place as part of a pilot project spearheaded by the P.E.I. Invasive Species Council through a new committee called Don't Move Firewood.

"The goal is to limit the spread of invasive insects and pathogens brought into P.E.I. through firewood brought by campers," said Kassidy Matheson, invasive species technician with the council.

"To launch an educational campaign that encourages people to — first of all, not bring firewood over — but if they do, they have a safe place to dispose of their wood and leave it behind."

The P.E.I. Invasive Species Council has set up two boxes at entryways to the Island where those visiting can safely dispose of firewood from off-Island. (Submitted by Kassidy Matheson)

Screeners at the two entry points will help visitors locate the drop-off locations — especially those travelling with camping equipment.

The metal boxes have a secure chute at the top to allow people to easily drop the firewood in.

An insect collector is located inside where flying insects can be trapped — so if any invasive insects are discovered they can be further studied.

The wood that is collected in the bins will be taken away and incinerated at a P.E.I. Energy Systems facility.

The concern is that some invasive species can lay eggs underneath bark of the firewood and then be transported into new areas. 

The pilot project is a partnership between the council, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), the government of P.E.I. and Island watershed groups.

"The CFIA is pleased to see these bins being used to help to stop the spread of harmful pests into and within P.E.I.," said Bill Anderson, plant health officer of Canada, in a written release.

"Everyone who is travelling near or far in Canada needs to do their part to protect our beautiful forests and the life that depends on them."

Matheson said one of the main species they are trying to prevent getting to the Island is the emerald ash borer, which has been identified in New Brunswick.

"We are concerned with that one because if it did come here we could lose, like, up to 99 per cent of our ash trees on P.E.I.," she said. 

"That's definitely concerning because we have the black ash — which is a threatened, rare species here and it's very important to wildlife and it's of cultural significance to the Mi'kmaw communities as well." 

Two collection boxes have been set up near the visitors centres at the Wood Island ferry terminal and Gateway Village in Borden-Carleton, P.E.I. (Submitted by Kassidy Matheson)

She said it is better to stop the spread before the invasive species become established, making it harder to remove them.

People who are staying at provincial or national park campgrounds are able to get wood in exchange. When they drop off at the disposable bins, they are able to get a coupon for free replacement firewood at those campgrounds.

Matheson said if the pilot project is successful they hope to expand it to private campgrounds on the Island next year.

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Jane Robertson

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Jane Robertson is a multi-platform journalist based out of Charlottetown. She has previously worked out of Edmonton, AB, and Iqaluit, NU, in her award-winning career that has spanned more than a decade with CBC. Jane.Robertson@cbc.ca Twitter @CBCJRobertson Instagram @CBCJaneRobertson

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