Guest blog by Robbie Doerhoff, Forest Health Specialist, Missouri Dept. of Conservation
We’ve all heard Ben Franklin’s famous adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I doubt these wise words were inspired by tree-killing insects and diseases, but they do sum up how we approach invasive forest pests in Missouri. The past events and infestations in nearby states with emerald ash borer (EAB), spongy moth, and Asian longhorned beetle have taught us just how expensive—both ecologically and economically—that “pound of cure” can be, and how incredibly important it is to keep those invasive forest pests out of Missouri in the first place. So, what’s Missouri’s “ounce of prevention”? Outreach! A large component of keeping pests out of Missouri is educating the people who may be bringing them into the state.
The pests we are most concerned about in Missouri are EAB, thousand cankers disease of black walnut, Asian longhorned beetle, and spongy moth. At this time, EAB is the only pest on this list that’s been detected in Missouri, and the entire state is now under the federal EAB quarantine. However, EAB has been detected in only 15 of our 114 counties, which means the other 99 counties are not currently known to have infested trees. Slowing the spread in Missouri is as important now as ever.
Missouri’s 2016 plans for forest pest and firewood outreach include :
- Developing a first detector program focused on forest pests
- Using billboards in several locations around the state
- Publishing large ads in Rural Missouri magazine (monthly circulation of 550k)
- Distributing our new firewood pest rack card in state parks and nature centers
- Displaying our new poster in both public and private campgrounds around the state
- Hosting the “Alien Invaders” booth at the Missouri State Fair in August
- Visiting with the woodworking community on regulations regarding walnut wood movement
Forest pest outreach within Missouri is coordinated by the Missouri Invasive Forest Pest Council, a group of agencies that partner on all activities related to forest pests. Our group includes the Missouri Departments of Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources, USDA-APHIS-PPQ, USDA-NRCS, USDA Forest Service, and the University of Missouri Extension. Many of our 2016 outreach activities are funded through a cooperative agreement with USDA-APHIS.
Outreach materials we plan to use this year include four matching products (billboard, advertisement, poster, rack card) created for us by Don’t Move Firewood. We also plan to give away educational materials provided by Don’t Move Firewood, including stickers and insect tattoos.