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Posted by: L. Greenwood

Newsflash! We are excited to tell everyone about a cool partnership that we started this year. Read the news release below to learn more...

CHARLEMONT, MA | July 25, 2011

Today, The Nature Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program interns from New York City will tour the forest canopy at Zoar Outdoor Adventure Resort through a unique partnership to protect America’s forests.

A recent $6,000 donation from Zoar Outdoor will support the Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood campaign, a multimedia outreach effort to educate the public on the issue of non-native forest insects and diseases that are wreaking havoc on trees in all regions of the United States. In the Massachusetts forests, the newest and most prominent threats to trees are the Asian longhorned beetle and the emerald ash borer.

More than 30,000 street and backyard trees were removed in Worcester, Massachusetts after an infestation of the Asian longhorned beetle was discovered in 2008. The emerald ash borer has been found in 15 states, including in eastern New York. Millions of trees have been killed in the Midwestern states by the emerald ash borer, and there is no treatment or spray that works to control this invasive insect once it reaches the forest.

In order to the prevent the spread of these and other invasive insects in the Commonwealth, the Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood campaign raises awareness about a common method of insect transport within the US — as hitchhikers on firewood. When people transport firewood further than 50 miles for camping trips or heating homes, tree-killing pests can get a ride to new place, where they cause new infestations.

As part of the Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood campaign, three New York City teens participating in the Conservancy’s (LEAF) program in western Massachusetts will zip line through Zoar Outdoor’s canopy to view the ecological importance of trees from a new perspective. Nationwide, about 70 students − many of whom have never spent time out of their city − will participate in the paid internship program from July 11 through August 5.

This is the 17th year of the LEAF program, whose mission is to engage urban youth in conservation activities now so that they will become stewards for our planet tomorrow. A recent survey of LEAF alumni found that the students are far more likely than their peers to engage in environmental issues as adults.

This comprehensive, environmental leadership program serves students attending multicultural environmental high schools in urban areas including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Georgia. With the assistance of a $3.1 million grant from the Toyota USA Foundation, the program will also add new schools in California, Illinois and Massachusetts by 2012.

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