Oregon Forest Pest Detector Network and 2017 Firewood Eclipse Outreach

Guest blog by Brandy Saffell, Program Coordinator for the Oregon Forest Pest Detector Program, Oregon State University Extension Service

The 2013 arrival of the emerald ash borer (EAB) in Boulder, Colorado, was a serious wakeup call to natural resource agency professionals in Oregon. Up until then, we had assumed that the Rocky Mountains would serve as a natural barrier to the westward spread of insects like EAB and the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). The several hundred miles that EAB jumped from an infestation in the Midwestern or Eastern states to Boulder was likely due to the movement of infested firewood- which made us realize that EAB may only be one infested load of wood away from Oregon.

In response, the Oregon State University Extension Service created the Oregon Forest Pest Detector program (OFPD), which trains natural resource professionals and volunteers how to identify and report high priority invasive forest pests in the course of their daily work. Since our first workshop in 2015, over 350 participants from across the state have completed the OFPD training. When new pests or potential pathways arise, this network of trained detectors is not only a great resource for visual survey and early detection, but also education and outreach.

Oregon Forest Pest Detectors looking for signs of EAB during a workshop in Cathedral Park, Portland (Photo credit: Brandy Saffell)

One recent example of OFPD outreach was advance preparation for 2017 solar eclipse travelers. With the sudden influx of visitors from across the country in campgrounds and natural areas along the path of totality, there was reasonable concern that infested firewood could end up in Oregon. We used the Don’t Move Firewood solar eclipse campaign materials in our summer OFPD newsletter and encouraged detectors to spread the word to their clients, employees, and communities. We also marketed to other OSU Extension networks such as the Oregon Master Naturalists. We heard back from several detectors that they had used the materials in their own communications, such as an urban forester from Portland Parks & Recreation who directed the message to Portlanders via the Tree Bark newsletter. We also heard from some Master Naturalist volunteers who served as naturalist interpreters and firewood educators at the Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge during the eclipse.

Master Naturalist volunteers setting up an interpretation booth at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge (Photo credit: Brett Lawrence)

In the next few years, the Oregon State University Extension Service would like to expand the OFPD program to reach out to more campground managers and volunteer hosts. We also hope to develop and implement a campground firewood exchange in cooperation with Oregon Parks and Recreation, where campers who bring firewood from outside Oregon can turn it in for local firewood.

Oregon Forest Pest Detectors is a partnership between the OSU Extension Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), USDA Forest Service, Oregon Department of Agriculture, and Oregon Invasive Species Council. The program would not be possible without funding received from USDA APHIS and the US Forest Service.

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Wyoming Firewood Education for Solar Eclipse Travelers

Guest blog by Ryan DeSantis, Forest Health Program Manager with the Wyoming State Forestry Division

Every year, millions of people travel to Wyoming to experience its outdoor recreation opportunities. This August, an estimated 500,000 additional visitors from out of state will come to Wyoming to view a rare total eclipse of the sun. On August 21, 2017, from approximately 10 AM to 1:30 PM, the eclipse’s 70-mile wide path of totality (the area where the moon will completely cover the sun) will span more than 365 miles across the length of Wyoming: from Jackson at the western edge of the state to Torrington on the eastern border. Wyoming is an ideal place to watch this eclipse due to its wide-open spaces, low light pollution, abundant public lands, and high probability of clear skies.

The Wyoming State Forestry Division has embarked on a partnership with the national Don’t Move Firewood campaign in anticipation that out of state campers might intend to bring their own firewood- not realizing that this has the potential to transport tree-killing insects and diseases into Wyoming forests. This educational campaign consists of billboards and public outreach materials to raise awareness of the need to buy or gather local firewood. Billboards will be located along interstate highways in Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Colorado, targeting traffic traveling toward Wyoming. The goal is to alert people prior to entering Wyoming. Additionally, the Wyoming State Forestry Division issued a press release to notify in-state, adjacent out-of-state, and national media outlets about the billboard advertising campaign.

Campers coming to Wyoming to view the eclipse are encouraged to buy firewood near their destination, or plan to collect firewood if that is allowed at their campsite. Every visitor to Wyoming has a role to play in keeping our forests free of invasive forest insects and diseases.

The USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry Program helps support Wyoming’s State Cooperative Forestry Programs. Wyoming State Forestry Division is grateful for the funding provided by the USDA Forest Service State and Private Forestry Program that enabled this Don’t Move Firewood advertising campaign. The partnerships between organizations such as the USDA Forest Service and state forestry organizations create such outreach possibilities.

Wyoming’s billboard campaign is slated to run from August 14 to September 11, 2017. Wyoming State Forestry Division has also set up a website to support this effort- for more information, please visit the site: https://sites.google.com/wyo.gov/firewood/home

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Free downloads for Tree Check Month 2017

August is Tree Check Month! Everyone is encouraged to take 10 minutes to check their trees for signs of the Asian longhorned beetle. To help you learn about the beetle, or to provide materials for your outreach needs, we’ve rounded up all the best free resources that we could find!

Infographics and Handouts:

Fun Outreach Items for Kids:

Blogs and News Releases:

Social Media Tips:

Educational Videos:

General Information: