YORK – John Currie of Hanson, Mass., thought he was getting a jump on his Labor Day weekend trip to Bayley’s Camping Resort in Scarborough, stacking a half-cord of wood into the back of his pickup truck a day before leaving home.

But as he was about to set out Friday, he heard from a family member that it was no longer legal to bring firewood into Maine. So Currie unloaded all of it.

“I am going to make some Maine woodcutter very happy,” Currie said Friday before heading north.

But other vacationers coming to Maine for the three-day weekend were caught unaware by the state’s new ban on out-of-state firewood.

Flashing signs along Interstate 95 directed them to the rest stop in York, where rangers from the Maine Forest Service asked them to exchange their wood for logs of Maine oak and maple that were free of invasive forest insects and disease.

At the rest stop Thursday, rangers talked to 176 visitors and exchanged wood with more than a dozen. On Friday, rangers continued to hand out informational pamphlets, bag illegal wood and deliver on-the-spot lectures about the destructive Asian longhorned beetle.

They focused on the pickup trucks towing recreational vehicles and sporting out-of-state plates. The waylaid visitors were almost uniformly polite and cooperative.

Leo and Debbie Lamontagne of Lawrence, Mass., turned over a storage container of wood that had been plucked from his mother’s woodpile Friday morning.

“You’d think our wood was radioactive,” Leo Lamontagne said.

He watched as a ranger, who had detected boring holes in the wood similar to those made by the Asian longhorned beetle, triple wrapped the wood in plastic, then wound yards of mover’s tape around the bundle.

All of the confiscated wood was headed to the state entomologist’s office, where it will be inspected for the beetles and other pests, such as the emerald ash borer.

The beetles have killed thousands of trees in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Ontario. The ash borers have killed millions of trees in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Maryland, Missouri, Virginia, West Virginia and Ontario.

Jeff Currier, regional supervisor for the Maine Forest Service, said some of the visitors are aware of the dangers of carrying around wood. Others are less informed.

“We have talked to people who knew absolutely nothing,” Currier said.

The forest service intends to hold similar wood exchanges this fall to help publicize the new rule. But after the education period, the forest service will start confiscating out-of-state wood without any exchanges. Eventually, people will face fines, which have yet to be determined.

Currier said the forest service will continue to exchange wood at the York rest stop today.

“This is an overwhelming success,” he said.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]