The emerald ash borer is headed this way, and Denver arts and culture organizations are bracing for a fight.
After all, this hungry little beetle devours ash trees. It showed up in Boulder in 2013, and already did major damage there. In the Queen City of the Plains, one in six trees is an ash. That means up to 1.45 million ash trees are potential snacks for the ash borer.
The issue isn't just aesthetic. Damaged ash trees could fall on homes and power lines; their absence would raise temperatures in the city, too.
So the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation's city forester is pledging an all-out war against the beetles. As the department has posted on its website: "These ash trees are prepared to put up a fight, often taking 2-4 years before showing signs of their EAB wounds. We’re prepared to fight just as hard for our urban canopy — one that keeps us cool, drowns out noisy neighbors and spruces up our air."
Among the weapons in the war: nonprofits, puns and a music video.
The Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Open Media and Jamie Laurie, the Flobots' Jonny 5, worked together to produce a PSA, in which Laurie dresses like an emerald ash borer and bikes around Denver rapping about his desire to eat ash trees. It's a silly video, but it shows Denver nonprofits, artists and the city collaborating to tackle a big issue.
"It is pretty zany and has been getting national social-media attention," says Erin Bird, communications manager at the Denver Botanic Gardens. "The response has been far greater than we anticipated."
Check out the video here:
For more information about the campaign, go to Be a Smart Ash.