WESTPORT - Ways of the Woods: People and the Land in the Northern Forest-the Northern Forest Center's mobile museum about forest heritage and culture across northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine-will feature a new video exhibit produced by partners at SUNY-ESF when it's on display at the Essex County Fair Aug. 12 - 16.
Ways of the Woods features multi-media displays housed in an image-covered 18-wheel tractor-trailer. Outdoor displays, artifacts and children's activities combine with the videos to help people explore the ever-changing relationships between people and land across the Northern Forest. More than 100,000 people in 85 Northern Forest communities have toured Ways of the Woods since its launch in summer 2006.
"Everybody is really excited that Ways of the Woods is coming this year," said Fair President Bradley French. "It's going to be a great year."
This year, in addition to exhibits about the region's culture and heritage, Ways of the Woods is incorporating new videos and displays that explore emerging scientific research and related economic opportunities, ranging from the development of biofuels to engineered wood products, forest health, and tourism development.
One of the new videos is about the work of researchers at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry to promote the commercialization of willow biomass crops as a source of renewable energy and other products currently made from fossil fuels.
"There is enormous potential for using willow biomass crops that can be grown on marginal agricultural land in the Northern Forest region as a sustainable source of renewable energy," said Dr. Timothy Volk, Senior Research Associate at SUNY-ESF. "This collaboration between the Northern Forest Center and SUNY ESF offers a valuable opportunity to get this message out to a diverse and broad audience across the region."
TransCanada Corporation is sponsoring the 2009 summer tour of Ways of the Woods. Ways of the Woods will be open 10 am to 9 pm every day of the fair.
In addition to educating people about initiatives like this at SUNY-ESF, the Center is also using Ways of the Woods to advance the regional economic strategy and recommendations developed by the Sustainable Economy Initiative (SEI) - a multi-year economic assessment of the Northern Forest region led by a panel appointed by the governors of New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and New York.
"The economic strategy developed though the SEI provides a common roadmap that business, policy and community leaders can use to build momentum across the region," said NFC Program Director Joe Short. SEI's recommendations, Economic Resurgence in the Northern Forest, are available online at www.nfsei.org.
"Ways of the Woods works on many levels, for adults and for children," said NFC Senior Program Director Mike Wilson. "Given the current economic climate, we want to use the exhibit to showcase positive opportunities related to forests, and to engage people in seeing how their community, their state, is part of an economically important region."
Known across the region as the "museum on wheels," Ways of the Woods consistently draws powerful, emotional responses from visitors as they explore both the history of the region and their personal connections to it. Tapping into economic issues and opportunities is intended to add another dimension to the visitor's experience.
The Northern Forest Center created Ways of the Woods through collaboration with scores of heritage organizations across the Northern Forest and with major financial support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Support for the 2009 Ways of the Woods tour is provided by TransCanada Corporation. The Center managed the Sustainable Economy Initiative jointly with the North Country Council of New Hampshire.