July 29, 2016
Vermont’s forests face a threat of unprecedented proportions. Two exotic invasive pests, the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle, have devastated forests in the mid-west and mid-Atlantic and have been found on all sides of Vermont’s borders. Federal and state resources to assist communities educate residents about invasive forest pests, prepare for the arrival of these pests ,and screen potential sightings have been dwindling in recent years and few municipalities have the capacity to plan for this threat.
Concerned citizens who have been trained as Forest Pest First Detectors started the Regional Invasive Insect Preparedness Team (RIIPT) in 2013. RIIPT represents a planning effort spanning much of Lamoille County and beyond. The purpose of a regional preparedness team is to utilize advantages afforded to these communities through collaborative planning efforts and potential cost-sharing opportunities.
This year, RIIPT received a $5,000 Caring for Canopy grant from VT UCF. The goal of this grant was to expand beyond the group’s previous network to education the general public on the threat of invasive species. Volunteers created four educational and fun public service announcements that will be distributed throughout the state on a variety of different media. RIIPT also created a full page, four color ad that was place in the News & Citizen and Stowe Reporter, which reached over 16,000 households in Lamoille County, Hardwick, Craftsbury, Greensboro and Greensboro Bend. Two ash inventories were completed for Eden and Elmore and three preparedness plans were written for Morristown, Eden, and Elmore.
A total of 490 volunteer hours were recorded by RIIPT members and an additional 168 volunteer hours were logged by student volunteers, and other members outside RIIPT for this project. RIIPT continues to educate and inform people across Lamoille County and beyond about importance of preparing for an invasive species infestation.