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August 7th, 2013

Senator Gillibrand seeks funding to eradicate Emerald Ash Borer

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee, recently urged for additional funding to help research, control and eradicate the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive insect threatening the 900 million ash trees in New York and throughout the country. There are no known methods to control the Emerald Ash Borer.

The infestation of the Emerald Ash Boer was first reported in New York State in 2009 in Cattaraugus County. It has since been found in 14 other counties, including Ulster, Greene, Livingston, Monroe, Steuben, Genesee, Erie, Orange, Albany, Niagara, Dutchess, Tioga, Delaware and Otsego Counties.

The state’s forest industry employs more than 60,000 workers and generates approximately $4.6 billion to the state’s economy, according to the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation.

The beetle has the potential to destroy upwards of 7 percent of the state’s forests and 7.5 percent of trees across the United States.

In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Senator Gillibrand is advocating for the proper resources to control the invasive species and protect New York’s forests. Senator Gillibrand’s complete letter:

"I am writing concerning the recent news that the Emerald Ash Borer is now confirmed to be present in fifteen counties in New York State. As I am sure you are aware, the Emerald Ash Borer, which has the potential to destroy 7.5 percent of trees across the United States, is a small insect that infests and eventually kills ash trees, is continuing to spread, causing serious devastation to our trees, and potential harm to some of our wood industries. The insect was first reported in Western New York over four years ago, threatening nearby state parks and forests. The most recent news that Otsego and Delaware Counties have been added to the list of counties in New York State does not give me confidence that the spread of this harmful insect will be subsiding any time soon.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), New York has more than 900 million ash trees. Several counties in Western New York and the Finger Lakes have a highly concentrated Ash population that makes up nearly a third of their overall forest. As the Emerald Ash Borer continues to invade states that contain ash trees, there is concern that businesses, such as the logging industry and the wooden baseball bat industry, will be severely impacted. For example, the Adirondack Division of the Rawlings Sporting Goods in Dolgeville, located in Herkimer County, is sitting in the middle of a State and Federal quarantine area designed to prevent the Emerald Ash Borer from spreading. These conditions have limited the supply of ash wood, which is the desirable material from which to make a baseball bat, putting the company’s production of those bats in danger.

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. 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."

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