Rhonda Santos, (508) 852-8044
Lyndsay Cole, (970) 494-7410
WASHINGTON, May 28, 2013 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced that it will move forward with utilizing treatment applications and the removal of high-risk host trees to fight an infestation of the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) in Clermont County, Ohio. USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty.
Following a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) signed on May 1, and the issuance of the final environmental assessment (EA), the ALB eradication program can move forward with new actions to rid the area of the invasive beetle. Both documents are available online at /plant_health/ea/alb.shtml.
The program will continue to conduct delimiting surveys, remove infested trees, and conduct regulatory activities, but it now has the flexibility to utilize pesticide treatment applications and high-risk host tree removals. The program will seek landowner permission prior to conducting treatment applications and high-risk host removals. If landowner consent is not granted for the recommended method of treatment or recommended removal of high-risk hosts, then additional survey work would continue and host trees would be removed only if they are subsequently identified as infested.
The program is working to secure a treatment application contractor. Once secured, the program anticipates that treatment applications could take place in June, weather permitting. The locations where treatment applications will take place this year include the Monroe Township regulated area and the Stonelick/Batavia Township regulated area. Treatments will be conducted within roughly an eighth-mile up to a quarter-mile radius around known infested trees. Maps of the treatment areas are available online at /plant_health/plant_pest_info/
For high-risk host tree removals, the program is utilizing the existing removal contract with Davey Tree Expert Company. High-risk host tree removals began this month and will continue as the program identifies areas that are a priority for high-risk host tree removals to take place.
The program is still working to delimit the infestation in Tate Township. Surveys will determine the full extent of the infestation and the information gained will help determine what additional eradication control strategies will be used.
The beetle was discovered in Bethel, Ohio in June 2011. In Clermont County, 61-square miles are regulated to control the pest, which includes all of Tate Township, all of East Fork State Park, a portion of Monroe Township, and a portion of Stonelick/Batavia Townships. To date, USDA and its partners have removed 9,366 trees and surveyed 422,828 host trees.
ALB eradication program staff will be offering “open office hours” for community members to speak with managers of the eradication effort. The first open office hours session will be held on Wednesday, May 29 from 2:00‐4:00 p.m. at the program office located at 1761 State Route 125, Suite C, Amelia, OH 45102. To get specific information about eradication program activities, community members may also call the eradication program office directly at (513) 381-7180, or request to schedule an appointment.
Members of the public are encouraged to inspect their trees for signs of damage caused by the insect and report any suspicious findings. The sooner an infestation is reported, the sooner efforts can be made to quickly contain and isolate an area from future destruction. People are encouraged to be mindful of moving firewood, as moving ALB-infested firewood can unintentionally spread the pest. For more information, please visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov or www.asianlonghornedbeetle.com.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration - the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.
Note to Reporters: USDA news releases, program announcements and media advisories are available on the Internet and through Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. Go to the APHIS news release page at /newsroom and click on the RSS feed link.
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