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USDA RESUMES REMOVAL OF INFESTED TREES AND DETERMINES NEXT STEPS FOR ASIAN LONGHORNED BEETLE ERADICATION EFFORTS - IN MASSACHUSETTS

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Contact:
Rhonda Santos (508) 799-8330
Suzanne Bond (301) 734-5175

IN MASSACHUSETTS

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 2009--The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has resumed the removal of Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) infested trees found within the Massachusetts regulated area.

APHIS will remove approximately 1,655 infested trees in the City of Worcester and the Town of West Boylston. Public and private trees will be marked for removal, with public trees featuring an additional mounted placard at least seven days before the removal takes place. APHIS will remove ALB-infested trees throughout the year as they are detected.

High-risk host trees will be removed in areas where the ALB-eradication program deems it critical in order to suppress the beetle's population. At this time, the following locations within the core of the infested area have been identified for high-risk host removal: The Greater Worcester Land Trust's Bovenzi Park, National Grid's parcel in Greendale and wooded areas along Mass Highway I-190 between Ararat Street and New Bond Street in Worcester.

APHIS will begin chemical treatments for eradication in the spring of 2010 via trunk injections within a two-square mile core infestation area centered in the Greendale and Burncoat neighborhoods of Worcester. Program officials will contact property owners for permission to treat private host trees, and treatments may be adjusted as resources dictate. The treatment pilot study, which included the treatment of 131 host trees this fall and 41 host trees next spring, will enable APHIS to determine whether or not treatments in Massachusetts can be effective if applied in months other than April, May and June. The pilot study will be completed in the winter of 2010.

APHIS and its partners will continue survey efforts within the Massachusetts-infested area this winter. Survey crews inspect ALB-host tree species for signs of the beetle using a combination of ground work, specially trained tree climbers and bucket trucks. Since Oct. 1, 2008, the Massachusetts ALB eradication program has surveyed more than 212,000 trees.

Federal and state regulations stopping the intrastate and interstate movement of wood, woody debris, logs, lumber and nursery stock remain in effect. Currently, the Massachusetts eradication program holds compliance agreements with 786 contractors working within the regulated area.

These efforts are designed to limit the spread of the invasive ALB and facilitate its eradication within Massachusetts, as well as to prevent the spread of ALB to other states. This is critical because the ALB is potentially one of the most destructive and costly invasive species to enter the United States.

The Massachusetts ALB cooperative eradication program is comprised of APHIS, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the City of Worcester, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the U.S. Forest Service and the Towns of Holden, Boylston, West Boylston and Shrewsbury.

For information about the beetle and program activities, please contact the Massachusetts ALB program at 1-866-702-9938. Log on to www.aphis.usda.gov or http://massnrc.org/pests/alb or visit www.beetlebusters.info for more information about ALB, including pictures and where to report a suspected beetle.

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