Washington, March 28, 2015 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), together with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the Ohio Department of Agriculture today announce plans for the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) eradication efforts taking place in 2016. APHIS and its partners have been conducting eradication efforts of this destructive tree pest since its detection in New York in 1996.
“After completing the environmental impact statement process in March, we are confident that we will be able to eliminate the beetle in the three affected states using the strategies we have available to us,” said Robyn Rose, APHIS’ national policy manager for the Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program. “The goal is still to eradicate this non-native, tree-killing pest.”
USDA issued a record of decision regarding the environmental impact statement (EIS) for the ALB eradication program on March 24, 2016, selecting the alternative that encompasses all ALB eradication strategies, including the removal of infested trees and the removal or treatment of high-risk host trees. The record of decision completes the EIS process – a process that looked at alternative program actions and the different environmental effects.
Currently, 308 square miles are under quarantine for ALB in the United States; 137 square miles in New York, which includes the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, and a portion of central Long Island; 110 square miles in Worcester County, Massachusetts which includes all of the City of Worcester, West Boylston, Boylston, Shrewsbury, and a portion of the Towns of Holden and Auburn; and 61 square miles in Clermont County, Ohio including East Fork State Park, Tate Township, and portions of Monroe, Stonelick and Batavia Townships. Infestations have been declared eradicated in Illinois (2008), New Jersey (2013), Manhattan (2013), Staten Island (2013), and Islip (2011) in New York and Boston (2014) in Massachusetts.
In 2016, program officials 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. As infested trees are detected throughout the year, they will be removed, and high-risk host tree removals will be evaluated as needed. Program officials will not apply pesticide treatments as part of the eradication efforts this year because surveys and infested tree removals remain the priority, but the use of treatment applications is evaluated annually. In addition, program staff continue to monitor inside and outside the regulated areas, respond to service calls, conduct training sessions for compliance agreements, and perform outreach.
To avoid spreading the beetle, under federal and state laws, people and businesses may not move regulated items out of an ALB quarantine area without a compliance agreement, permit, or certificate. If people or companies do commercial work on regulated articles such as firewood (all hardwood species), nursery stock, logs, branches, etc. in any quarantine area, they must enter into a compliance agreement with the ALB eradication program in their state to move items to approved sites for disposal. Before entering into an agreement, they need to attend free compliance training. To register for the training, please call:
USDA and its partners are conducting various research projects to learn more about the beetle, including regulatory treatments for wood and nursery stock, chip size and grinding techniques to deregulate ALB host materials, and traps to lure adult beetles. USDA APHIS is also studying how quickly the insect spreads on its own and its host tree preference and range and is conducting DNA analysis and various behavioral experiments.
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. Uncertified firewood and other regulated articles are currently prohibited from leaving the regulated areas. For more information about the beetle and program activities, please visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/pests-diseases/alb.
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