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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 29, 2010

WITH DESTRUCTIVE ASH BORER JUST FOUND AGAIN IN SOUTHERN TIER: SCHUMER: EMERALD ASH BORER ONCE AGAIN ON VERGE OF SPREADING ACROSS NYS; SENATOR CALLS ON FEDS TO HELP NY COMMUNITIES FIGHT PROBLEM BY APPROVING FUNDING APPLICATIONS IMMEDIATELY SO NY IS NOT OUTGUNNED


State and Not-For-Profit Agencies Have All Asked For Funding From Feds to Fight EAB Infestations And Prevent their Spread, But Funds Have Not Been Awarded

Ash Borer Found In Cattaraugus County Last Year And Infested Trees Were Destroyed - Earlier This Month The Infestation Was Once Again Found In Same Location, And Scope Of Infestation Is Unknown

Feds Provided Funding Last Year At Schumer's Request That Helped Contain the Spread - More Help Needed This Year to Prevent Devastating Economic Consequences

 
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that he has written personal letters to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lisa Jackson, and the Secretary of the United State Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urging them to help New York fight the emerald ash borer (EAB) by approving several applications that would provide critical resources to New York communities to prevent the invasive species’ advance. Without drastic and immediate intervention, industries relying on New York for quality hardwood resources will suffer. In addition, EAB will kill trees and disturb the natural balance of New York’s forests, which provide recreational opportunities to many and foster tourism
 
The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a major non-profit that works with communities across New York to protect land that is ecologically important,  the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) have all applied to grant programs within the EPA and USDA’s Forest Service for funding to prevent EAB infestations, but the funding decisions have not yet been made. Today’s letter by Schumer is an effort to highlight the critical importance of these funds and the impact they will have on  communities across Upstate New York.
 
“Invasive species like the Emerald Ash Borer are a blight on our economy and our ecosystem, with the potential to wreck havoc for businesses in a number of industries, including furniture makers, lumber mills and sporting goods manufacturers,” said Schumer. “Even our national past time itself is at stake; New York is home to millions of ash trees used to produce the high quality baseball bats used by major leaguers. Protecting our trees and forests from the Emerald Ash Borer is critical to the continued economic and cultural vitality of the region and it is imperative that we find ways to fight it and raise awareness about how to control the spread.”
 
The Emerald Ash Borer is a bright green beetle that kills trees by burrowing into their bark and destroying the trees’ ability to bring water from the roots to upper branches. Infected trees usually begin to die within two to three years. EAB was found last year in Cattaraugus County and all 39 infested trees were destroyed. Just this month the insects were found again, in an unknown number of trees in the same location. Schumer said immediate action must be taken.
 
Insects like the EAB threaten the health of forests and ash trees every year, which in turn threatens the livelihood of communities that depend on the forests. According to the state Department of Agriculture, New York has more than 900 million ash trees (targeted by EAB), representing about seven percent of all trees in the state. Since the beetle was first discovered in North America in Michigan in 2002, the Emerald Ash Borer has devastated forests throughout the country and has the potential to decimate New York’s ash tree population. More than 70 million ash trees in 13 Midwestern states and Pennsylvania, as well as many in southern Ontario in Canada have already been destroyed by this deadly pest.
 
The ecological and economic impact of EAB is a serious concern, especially to the hardwood industry. EAB defoliation can result in plant stress and possible death. Companies that make products from ash trees harvested in New York, such as baseball bats, will be negatively impacted if EAB continues to spread throughout the state. According to the Empire State Forest Products Association, forest-based manufacturing employs over 49,000 people in New York, and generates payrolls of over $1.5 billion. In addition, ash trees account for over 10% of total wood manufacturing by volume in New York. Without drastic and immediate intervention, industries relying on New York for quality hardwood resources will suffer. In addition, EAB will kill trees and disturb the natural balance of New York’s forests, which provide recreational opportunities to many and foster tourism
 
According to the Western New York Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM), EAB is expected to cost $10.7 billion in treatment and removal costs in urban and residential areas in the US over the next 10 years. Without the proper funding, awareness or infrastructure, the EAB will have a devastating impact on the local economy. PRISM aims to work with towns and municipalities to create a level of awareness of invasive species and teach residents how to fight them. Getting the information about EAB out to non-professionals is critical because they need to learn how they can engage in preventative measures.
 
NYSDEC, TNC and SUNY ESF have each applied for funds made available through the EPA and the USDA’s Forest Service that can be used to fight the spread of emerald ash borer.
 
·         NYSDEC would use EPA funds for its "Stop the Unsafe Disposal of Infested Firewood at Ports of Entry" program which is designed to reduce the risks of transporting firewood infested with forest pests by restricting the uncontrolled disposal of untreated firewood in the Great Lakes Basin communities located at or near ports of entry. 
 
·         SUNY ESF’s “Emerald Ash Borer Rapid Response Management Strategy for New York State" requests to EPA and USDA would fund a program to develop an emerald ash borer management strategy, which is critical to the State's ability to respond to future infestations, and the  develop and implement of emerald ash borer management strategies for New York State.
 
·         TNC is applying for USDA Forest Service funds to expand the content and reach of the Don't Move Firewood Campaign.  This is a critical component of outreach to prevent the movement of non-native forest insects and would have nationwide benefits for very little cost. 
 
Additional federal funding through EPA and USDA would be an important shot in the arm for the effort to combat EAB in New York state and protect its precious forest resources.
 
The text of Schumer’s letter to Administrator Jackson and Secretary Vilsack can be found below:
 
 
June 29, 2010
 
The Honorable Tom Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250
 
Dear Secretary Vilsack:
 
I write to call your attention to the emerging threat to New York of emerald ash borer and urge you to take immediate action to prevent the spread of this invasive insect. I respectfully request that you to approve two New York applications for Forest Service funds to combat emerald ash borer.
 
The emerald ash borer has been discovered in Cattaraugus County, New York and I am concerned that it is poised to make inroads across the state. Invasive species are a blight on our economy and our ecosystem, with the potential to wreak havoc on businesses in a number of industries, including furniture makers, lumber mills and sporting goods manufacturers. Insects like the emerald ash borer threaten the health of forests and ash trees every year, which in turn threatens the livelihood of communities that depend on the forests. New York has more than 900 million ash trees, representing about seven percent of all trees in the state. Since the beetle was first discovered in North America in Michigan in 2002, the emerald ash borer has devastated forests throughout the country and has the potential to decimate New York’s ash tree population. Protecting our trees and forests from the emerald ash borer is critical to the continued economic and cultural vitality of the region and it is imperative that we work aggressively to control the spread of this invasive insect.
 
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the State University of NY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) have each applied for funds made available through the Forest Service that can be used to fight the spread of emerald ash borer. TNC will use these funds to expand the content and reach of the Don't Move Firewood Campaign.  This is a critical component of outreach to prevent the movement of non-native forest insects and would have nationwide benefits for very little cost.  SUNY ESF’s “Emerald Ash Borer Rapid Response Management Strategy for New York State" request will develop and implement emerald ash borer management strategies for New York State.  These funds should be approved without further delay to ensure that TNC and SUNY ESF are able to work quickly to suppress the spread of emerald ash borer.
 
Again, I urge you to approve these requests so that TNC and SUNY ESF may act expeditiously to prevent the spread of emerald ash borer in New York. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to me.  Thank you for your prompt attention to this urgent request.
 
 Sincerely,
 
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
 

 
June 29, 2010
 
The Honorable Lisa Jackson
U.S. Department of Environmental Protection
 
Dear Administrator Jackson:
 
I write to call your attention to the emerging threat to New York of emerald ash borer and urge you to take immediate action to prevent the spread of this invasive insect. I respectfully request that you to approve two New York applications for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funds to combat emerald ash borer.
 
The emerald ash borer has been discovered in Cattaraugus County, New York and I am concerned that it is poised to make inroads across the state. Invasive species are a blight on our economy and our ecosystem, with the potential to wreak havoc on businesses in a number of industries, including furniture makers, lumber mills and sporting goods manufacturers. Insects like the emerald ash borer threaten the health of forests and ash trees every year, which in turn threatens the livelihood of communities that depend on the forests. New York has more than 900 million ash trees, representing about seven percent of all trees in the state. Since the beetle was first discovered in North America in Michigan in 2002, the emerald ash borer has devastated forests throughout the country and has the potential to decimate New York’s ash tree population. Protecting our trees and forests from the emerald ash borer is critical to the continued economic and cultural vitality of the region and it is imperative that EPA work aggressively with New York to control the spread of this invasive insect.
 
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the State University of NY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) have each applied for funds made available through the EPA that can be used to fight the spread of emerald ash borer. DEC will use these funds for its "Stop the Unsafe Disposal of Infested Firewood at Ports of Entry" program (EPAGLNPO-2010-IS-2-578-411) which is designed to reduce the risks of transporting firewood infested with forest pests by restricting the uncontrolled disposal of untreated firewood in the Great Lakes Basin communities located at or near ports of entry.  SUNY ESF’s “Emerald Ash Borer Rapid Response Management Strategy for New York State" request will fund a two-year grant to develop an emerald ash borer management strategy, which is critical to the State's ability to respond to future infestations. These funds should be approved without further delay to ensure that DEC and SUNY ESF are able to work quickly to suppress the spread of emerald ash borer.
 
Again, I urge you to approve these requests so that DEC and SUNY ESF may act expeditiously to prevent the spread of emerald ash borer in New York. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Thank you for your prompt attention to this urgent request.
 
Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator

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