Rhonda Santos, (508) 852-8044
Suzanne Bond, (301) 851-4070
Washington, April 3, 2015 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) today announced plans for the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) eradication effort in 2015 in Worcester County, Massachusetts. APHIS and its partners have been fighting this destructive tree pest in Massachusetts since its detection in 2008.
The ALB eradication program uses an integrated approach to eradicate the beetle, which consists of quarantines, visual surveys of trees, the removal of infested and high-risk host trees, and the application of pesticides. Currently, 110 square miles are under regulation in Worcester County, which includes all of the City of Worcester, West Boylston, Boylston, Shrewsbury, and a portion of the Towns of Holden and Auburn. In September, APHIS and DCR confirmed that the boundary of the ALB infestation is contained within the existing 110 square mile regulated area.
In 2015, the program will continue to survey host trees within the regulated areas. Surveys are conducted year-round by specially trained federal, state, and contracted ground survey crews and tree climbers. Infested tree removals will continue throughout the year as infested trees are detected, and high risk host tree removals will continue with the property owner’s permission. The program will not apply pesticide treatments this year as surveys and infested tree removals remain the priority, but will continue to evaluate the use of treatment applications annually. In addition, program staff continue to monitor the regulated areas, respond to service calls, and conduct training sessions for compliance agreements. Compliance trainings are available for businesses and individuals who perform work that may involve moving wood materials in the regulated area. To register, please call 508-852-8110.
DCR will continue its tree replanting efforts within the regulated area where trees were removed as part of the ALB eradication effort. To schedule an appointment with a DCR forester, property owners should call 508-852-8073.
The goal of the ALB program is to eradicate the pest in the United States. To achieve this goal, the program develops and implements science-based eradication methods. APHIS continues its work developing pheromone traps to lure and capture the insect. The program will place traps in Massachusetts by June. Other projects include regulatory treatments for wood and nursery stock, and looking at chip size and grinding techniques to deregulate host material. APHIS continues analysis to determine how fast the insect spreads on its own, evaluates host trees the beetle attacks for preference and range, and conducts DNA analysis and behavioral experiments.
APHIS is also continuing to seek public comments on the draft programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS) for the national ALB Eradication Program. The draft EIS analyzes the potential effects of eradicating ALB should the beetle be discovered elsewhere in the continental United States. Any interested persons are invited to comment, and APHIS will consider all comments received on or before April 27, 2015. You can view and comment on the EIS through the following link:
USDA partners with federal, state and local municipalities to eradicate ALB and protect our nation’s urban and suburban shade trees and recreational and forest resources. These partnerships benefit the health of our environment and reduce threats to other areas. Support from the public is also crucial in achieving eradication. Residents are encouraged to inspect their trees for signs of damage caused by the insect and report any suspicious findings. Firewood and other regulated articles are currently prohibited from leaving the regulated areas. For more information about the beetle and program activities, please visit www.aphis.usda.gov or www.AsianLonghornedBeetle.com or call the Massachusetts ALB Eradication Program directly at 508-852-8090.
APHIS is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: APHIS, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).