WITH TREE-KILLING BEETLES IN CENTRAL PARK, MALONEY DETAILS FY2002 FEDERAL FUNDS FOR ENHANCED BATTLE

Feb 14, 2002
Press Release

NEW YORK: This weekend New Yorkers learned that two of Central Park’s trees were infested by the Asian Long-horned beetle, a voracious insect that destroys trees. The beetle first appeared in Congresswoman Maloney’s district in 1996 and she has succeeded in obtaining federal funds to combat the beetle ever since. Today, Maloney detailed new federal funds appropriated as part of the Fiscal Year 2002 federal budget to help prevent the spread of the beetle and to assist in eradication efforts.

"When the beetle was found in trees in Ruppert Park on the Upper East Side two years ago, it was clear that Central Park could be the next step and it was," said Maloney. "This beetle could destroy half of New York City’s trees. Asian Long-horned beetles have already killed more than 4,000 trees in New York. The potential for further devastation is tremendous and we’ve got to stop it. That’s why I continued this year to push for greater funding to combat this dangerous pest.

"I am pleased to report that this year, the Agriculture Appropriations bill included a special earmark of $31 million for emerging plant pests, of which $16.9 million is allocated specifically to eradicate the Asian Long-horned beetle. In addition, funding for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service(APHIS), the federal agency with primary responsibility for combating the beetle, was increased by $91.1 million last year to a total of $620.5 million for FY2002. Also, the Interior Appropriations bill, already passed in the House, includes $25 million for the U.S. Forest Service to stop the spread of the the Asian Longhorned Beetle, the gypsy moth, and other invasive species through the Cooperative Land Forest Health Management program. This is a $2,555,000 increase from 2001 funding levels.

"The only way to prevent the Asian Long-horned beetle from devastating our parks is to make sure that the federal, state and local governments continue to work with residents to survey trees and find the beetle before it spreads. Recognizing the beetle’s ability to deforest the entire nation, Congress takes this issue very seriously. I worked this year with my colleagues whose districts are also affected by the beetle to ensure that there is sufficient funding for educating the community, surveying trees, destroying infested trees, replacing trees and research on ways to combat the beetle.

"It breaks my heart to think that the beetle has fulfilled our fears and found its way to Central Park, but it just shows how important it is to continually survey the trees, catch each infestation early, and remain vigilant in fighting to eradicate this tree-killing pest."Continued ...

BACKGROUND:

Congresswoman Maloney has been a leading advocate for funds to save the region’s trees from Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation. In 2000, Congresswoman Maloney was given an award by Trees NY for her work in fighting the beetle. The beetle was first discovered in the U.S. in 1995 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a part of Congresswoman Maloney’s district at the time. The beetle has since spread throughout the region, killing more than 4,000 trees in the New York City metropolitan area in less than 6 years. Since January 1st, 2001, Brooklyn and Queens have lost close to 500 trees to beetle infestation, while Manhattan has lost more than 50 trees. The most recent infestations were discovered in Central Park, the lower-East side of Manhattan, and Astoria, Sunnyside, and Woodside, Queens. The beetle has also infested areas of the Chicago metropolitan region and has spread further into new areas of New York and Illinois each year.

Since the beetle was first discovered, Congresswoman Maloney has held numerous public forums to raise awareness about the beetle’s devastating effects and to discuss strategies to prevent the spread of beetle infestation, including events with officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They have also met with agriculture specialists to discuss a range of programs to contain the spread of the beetle. In Congress, Maloney has worked consistently to raise awareness about the Asian Longhorned Beetle and to secure adequate funding for tree inspections, removals, and reforestation efforts, as well as for research and prevention programs.

Earlier this year, the Department of Agriculture implemented a large-scale program to protect healthy trees through a treatment that prevents beetle infestation. The program has not been in effect long enough to measure results. Coordinated efforts from federal, state, and city agencies to inspect and remove infested trees remain ongoing.

Asian Longhorned Beetles are approximately 1-inch long with shiny, oval black bodies and white spots, and 2-inch long antennae. Beetle larvae bore into trees, creating holes that kill mature trees in less than a year. The beetle is thought to have arrived in the U.S. from infested wood packaging materials from China. The beetle prefers sugar and Norway maples, but also infests other hardwoods including apple, cherry, elm, horse chestnut, locust, mulberry, pear, poplar and willow trees. Additional information about the beetle is available on the web at www.aphis.usda.gov

Anyone who spots an Asian Longhorned Beetle should contact one of the following agencies:

In New York: United States Department of Agriculture - New York

(631) 598-5943

New York State Department of Agriculture

1-800-554-4501 ext.72087

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

1-800-201-PARK

In Chicago: United States Department of Agriculture - Chicago

(312) 742-3386

Illinois Department of Agriculture

                                                       1-800-641-3934

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