The fight against a particular pest effecting local trees could receive a boost of support from the federal government.
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on Tuesday, July 30, urged for additional federal funding for research, control and eradication efforts on the emerald ash borer, which is an invasive species that kills ash trees. Gillibrand wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack advocating for the “proper resources” to address the spread of the pest and protect the state’s forests. Her announcement hinged on the number infested New York counties increasing to 15, with Delaware and Otsego counties recently confirmed.
Gillibrand, in her letter to Vilsack, said two more counties joining the list of statewide infestations does not give her “confidence” the spread of emerald ash borers “will be subsiding any time soon.”
“Due to the pervasive nature of this issue, I am asking for funding to be made available to assist the research, control and eradication of this population of insects that threaten the ash tree in New York and throughout the United States,” Gillibrand said in her letter. “If we are going to seriously address spread of the Emerald Ash Borer, it is critical for the federal government to provide the necessary resources to reverse this trend.”
Locally, the Town of Bethlehem is the epicenter of Albany County’s infestation. The state Department of Environmental Conservation in October 2011 confirmed the initial discovery of the metallic green beetle near the CSX rail yard in Selkirk.
The Spotlight recently reported about Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany County hosting Mark Whitmore, a forest entomologist at the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University, for a presentation on EAB in the county and state.
Whitmore urged immediate action from government officials and property owners to tackle the invasive species.
“Right now, they should be looking at all public infrastructure and property and determining where the ash (trees) are, that way they know their liabilities,” Whitmore previously told The Spotlight. “Once they know their liabilities, they can begin … developing management decisions and priorities.”
Gillibrand stressed the economic impact of the beetle potentially destroying up to 7 percent of forests statewide. More than 60,000 workers are employed in forest industries that generate around $4.6 billion annually, according to Gillibrand. The state DEC estimates there are around 900 million ash trees statewide.
For information on the emerald ash borer, such as identification or biological controls, visit nyis.info/eab.