Contributed by: Karen Coluzzi (Maine Dept. of Ag)
The Forest Pest Outreach and Survey Project (FPOSP), a cooperative effort between federal and state agricultural and forestry officials, has been renewed for 2011 and 2012 thanks to Farm Bill funding. The project was conceived after the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) discovery in Massachusetts in 2008, with the realization that, had there been more public awareness, the beetle would have been reported much earlier. Maine has participated in this project since 2009 through a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine and the Maine Department of Agriculture. Now, approximately 15 states in the eastern region are participating in FPOSP.
Since 2009, Maine has trained over 150 individuals to not only look for invasive tree pests, like the ALB and the emerald ash borer, but to also spread awareness of these pests to their constituents and members of their communities. Types of outreach events that have been conducted range from displaying information at trades shows, hanging posters in town offices, dropping off bookmarks at local libraries, giving presentations to land trusts and other environmental groups, and surveying public lands. Over 700 events around the state either centered around invasive tree pest awareness, or displayed information about invasive tree pests. We are certain that much more outreach is being conducted than we are aware of.
For this third year, we are focusing our outreach efforts at school age children and under-served areas of the state, such as Aroostook and Washington counties. We are hoping to have trainings in both counties in the spring. Much has happened already with K-12 outreach; two classes at the Narraguagus High School in Harrington were trained to look for ALB, EAB and hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) and surveyed the school property for signs of these insects. The students have also participated in community outreach. The 5th grade class at the China Middle School has spent the fall term researching, writing, illustrating and publishing a children’s book about ALB. Hard copies of the book should be available by early March.
Other efforts this year to increase awareness include setting up geocaches stocked with our outreach materials, and training boy scouts to recognize signs and symptoms of ALB, EAB and HWA.
If anyone is interested in helping to spread awareness of these pests, please contact the Maine Department of Agriculture, or go to http://www.maine.gov/agriculture/pi/pestsurvey/pestinfo/ALB/ALBvolunteers.htm.