CORVALLIS – A new, free iPhone application from Oregon Sea Grant aims to stem the spread of invasive insects by showing campers where they can buy local firewood when vacationing on the Oregon coast and other Pacific Northwest locations.
Dubbed “Firewood Buddy,” the application was developed by Media Macros, in collaboration with Sea Grant Extension’s invasive species specialist Sam Chan, media specialist Mark Farley and the Oregon Invasive Species Council.
Using the application, iPhone- or iPad-equipped visitors can locate local firewood sellers closest to parks and campgrounds on the Oregon coast and in Washington, Idaho and northern California.
If the application proves popular, a version may be developed for Android devices as well.
The application also provides practical information about camping, and informs campers about problems caused by non-native insects and diseases that may be harbored in untreated firewood sold by supermarkets and other sources. Such wood often originates outside the region – sometimes from as far away as the US East Coast, New Zealand or Russia. The wood can harbor insects and other organisms, some of which can lie dormant in or on firewood for as long as two years and can cause forest havoc if they escape in areas where they have no natural predators. (Additional information about the threat of firewood-borne pests is available at http://www.dontmovefirewood.org)
The mobile application is a followup to a 2009-11 research and education campaign Sea Grant undertook with invasive species councils in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. A joint education campaign ensued to encourage people not to transport firewood to campouts, picnics and other activities.
Using the slogan “Buy it where you burn it,” the campaign provided educational material about invasive insects and plant diseases to people reserving state park campsites online. Surveys before and after the educational campaign showed that, while nearly 40% of campers surveyed said they regularly brought firewood with them from outside the area, two-thirds of those who’d seen the educational material said they would change their behavior, including buying firewood locally.
The research and education project was funded by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.