Protecting Massachusetts Campgrounds and Natural Resources

This blog was originally posted on the Massachusetts Introduced Pests Outreach Blog on March 7th 2017.

Though it’s cold outside now, the spring camping season is rapidly approaching! While many campers like to bring their own firewood to campsites, the invasive wood-boring insects Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) and emerald ash borer make frequent use of firewood to transport themselves to new infestation sites. Worcester has already lost 36,000 trees to date due to the ALB, so the economic and environmental risk these invasive pests pose to the rest of New England’s hardwood forests is immense.

In order to help spread awareness of these pests and the risk they pose, we offer a variety of free outreach materials, including ID cards, pamphlets, and laminated posters suitable for display outdoors. We (staff at Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources) also offer “Don’t Move Firewood” material that encourages campers to buy their own firewood at campsites. You can order your free materials using this Google Docs form.

Campers should be aware of the risks involved in moving firewood, even to nearby towns. It is a good idea to be aware of where at each campground you can purchase firewood.

If you want to update your campground’s website with information pertaining to invasive forest, here is some suggested wording:
Bringing firewood from home when you go camping could put your favorite campsite in danger. Tree-killing insects and diseases can hitchhike in firewood and use it to spread to new areas. Instead of bringing firewood with you when you go camping, buy firewood from a location close to where you camp.

For more information, see:

It is the responsibility of all Massachusetts citizens and visitors to make sure we are preserving our natural resources, and being aware of these invasive insects and how to combat their spread is part of that.

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Having Fun with Outreach at the Vermont Flower Show

Guest blog by Meredith Whitney, Forest Pest Outreach Coordinator with University of Vermont Extension

Thousands of Vermonters come out of the woodwork every other year to witness the colors, smells, and excitement of the Vermont Flower Show. Upon arrival to the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction, Vermont visitors first walk through the main garden display. As the Forest Pest Outreach Coordinator with the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program, I have the opportunity to attend events such as the Flower Show, where I can reach large numbers of highly engaged members of the public.

This year, we paid for a 10 x 10 booth in the exhibition hall and displayed large images of the emerald ash borer (EAB) and Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). The Flower Show was a terrific opportunity to use one of the two interactive “face-in-hole” banners that we recently designed. The banners are a fun way to spread the message about not moving firewood and work perfectly for social media posts. Having interactive components to our displays has doubled the number of people who stop by. The banners appeal to young children, their parents, and to many millennials- and each person that takes a photo creates a permanent and shareable reminder about these forest pests, right inside their smartphone!

The Flower Show was bustling this year. All three days were busy and our booth was always full of people asking questions about invasive insects. We recorded 719 people that came and looked at the display. I was surprised at how much people already knew. Nearly everyone who stopped by had heard of at least one of the two pests. The most common response I heard was, “I’ve seen those!” Since neither EAB or ALB have been detected in Vermont yet, I would walk people over to the insect samples, showing them how small the EAB really is, or how similar ALB is to the native six-spotted tiger beetle.

In many cases people felt hopeless at first, and they ask if there is anything they can do about the emerald ash borer. Much like me, they are stunned that it hasn’t shown up in Vermont yet. Last year, Vermont passed a law banning the importation of untreated firewood into the state. We tell them that the simplest and easiest way to slow the spread of invasive species is to buy firewood where you burn it. It is my hope that exhibits like ours at the Flower Show will inspire people to do their part and make a difference.

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