Tunes, Bugs, and Balloons with the Don't Move Firewood booth
by Ariel Kirk
The Don’t Move Firewood summer education booth spent a great weekend in Greenfield MA at the Green River Festival for the 4th summer in a row! This year we were stationed on the lower field with a beautiful, open area reaching all the way to the river. It was great to feel that breeze off the water occasionally and use our handy Don’t Move Firewood fans to battle the summer sun. Our neighboring booth, Deerfield River Watershed Alliance, told us that there were even shuttles available to festival-goers that would take them for a dip in the river.
Our booth was hopping with all the interested people checking out our emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle specimens. Many of the patrons were familiar with us from past years and were excited to see us back. Some had new questions or were concerned with how far the invasive species, specifically the emerald ash borer, have been spreading. It was great to interact with so many people and to continue to spread the word about how damaging non-native insects can be to our native forests.
This great site also gave us perfect seats after-hours when the hot air balloons began to rise into the air. Folks could choose to go on a hot air balloon adventure, a la Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, or stay affixed safely to the ground by a giant rope but still have a great view from the basket of the floating balloon. Watching people unfurl the balloons and seeing them rise in the air was a great sight and one of my favorite experiences at the Green River Festival.
Finding Fame at Grey Fox
by Katie Robb
Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival is unlike any event I’ve ever been to before. First off, there are easily over 4,000 campers there to enjoy bluegrass 24/7. However, what’s impressive is not the sheer number of campers, but their style of camping. These people are some of the most serious campers I’ve ever seen. Some may simply pop up a tent and call it good enough, but others set up what can only be considered a compound; networks of tents and giant canopies, kitchens, showers, carpets, lounge chairs, and the occasional flagpole. But what really blew me away was how many of the visitors to our booth already knew about the Emerald Ash Borer or the Asian Longhorned Beetle.
I had to completely switch up how I talked to people at our booth at Grey Fox. Instead of giving an overview, I dove right into the nitty gritty. Learning how to identify the insects and their indicators was a common request this weekend. For many, the chance to see our Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Longhorned Beetle specimens was their first time seeing the real thing; even for people who live in areas where these insects are present. On top of that, there were a lot of eager individuals who asked to take home a stack of our pamphlets so that they could educate their friends and family. Often times I found myself getting sidetracked talking to people about other invasive species that they were interested in or had experience with. When we dressed up in costume, there were so many people who flocked to us wanting to take pictures with the Asian Longhorned Beetle and the Emerald Ash Borer. I figured this must be what it feels like to be famous.
Grey Fox was easily one of my favorite festivals of the summer so far, and I can’t wait to go back next year. If you’re into bluegrass, I recommend you go sometime. I’d also like to add, if you’re into anything that relies on the presence of a healthy forest (i.e. clean air, firewood, natural beauty, outdoor activities, anything built from wood, etc.), I recommend that you stop by our booth or check out our website to learn more about what you can do to protect our trees.
Speaking for the Trees @ Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival
By Katie Robb, Don't Move Firewood Summer Intern
Our second event of the summer was a huge success. We reached nearly 1,000 people over the course of the weekend while at Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival in Croton-On-Hudson, NY. There were many visitors who remembered us from years past; some even said that we’re their favorite booth! One teenage boy has been collecting our prize wheel give-aways, with the goal of getting something new every year. This time he walked away with one of our new trucker hats to add to his Don’t Move Firewood collection. Needless to say, he’s practically an expert on the Asian Longhorned Beetle and Emerald Ash Borer at this point.
Upon arriving at Clearwater on Friday night, we were directed to set up our booth in the Activist Area. It was at that moment that I found myself in a humorous situation. I attended a college which is known for being very liberal and rife with activism. However, over the course of my four years in school I was averse to becoming involved in the hot political issues on campus. I was probably as un-activist as you could get. Ironically, I now find myself working as an activist this summer; I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues (as Dr. Seuss’ Lorax would say). Clearly there are issues that make an activist out of me and I just hadn’t realized it yet.
Spending my weekends dressed in an Emerald Ash Borer costume and talking to people about the risk of transporting tree-killing invasive insects when moving firewood is really exciting. The highlight of my weekend was when I connected with an individual who admitted to recently cutting down a tree in their back yard with the intention of making firewood to use when camping. They realized that they could’ve unknowingly jeopardized their favorite summer camping spot in Maine by bringing firewood along with them from their home in Connecticut, and then promptly agreed to buy firewood local to the campsite. It’s encouraging to see that the effort I make can have an immediate impact on reducing the threat to our forests’ health. Although, I can’t claim all the credit, visitors to our booth often take our education materials for their friends and family who they know use firewood for camping or heating their homes. A cooperative effort gives our beloved maples, willows, birch, elm, and ash trees (to name a few!) the chance to stand tall for generations to come.
So I suppose it’s time to admit that I’m actually an activist. In retrospect, The Lorax was always one of my favorite books growing up as a child.
Driving through the two big intermountain states of Idaho and Montana this summer will bring you past a whole bunch of Don’t Move Firewood billboards! With locations at nearly all incoming interstates for Idaho, and several locations near Yellowstone in Montana, the total coverage from these billboards will be a minimum of 2.7 million viewers during the summer months, with the possibility of many more viewers if funds permit extensions on the billboard rentals. Here at Don’t Move Firewood, we are thrilled to participate in partnerships like this- many thanks to Idaho Department of Lands, Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Forestry Division, and the United States Forest Service for their excellent work!
Here’s the design chosen by Idaho:
And here is the design chosen by Montana:
And here’s what the Montana design looked like in person at one of the locations!
We also made billboard in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio in 2014. Read about those efforts, and see their design, here.