11.12.14

SCHUMER: DESTRUCTIVE HEMLOCK WOOLLY ADELGID HAS SPREAD FURTHER ACROSS UPSTATE NY THIS YEAR, THREATENING TIMBER INDUSTRY & ECOSYSTSEM; TREE-KILLING PEST NOW IN 25 COUNTIES, INCLUDING MANY IN THE S. TIER & FINGER LAKES FOR FIRST TIME – SENATOR CALLS ON FEDS TO PROVIDE RESOURCES TO HELP STEM THE SPREAD OF THIS INVASIVE SPECIES

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is an Invasive Species That Feeds on Base of Hemlock Trees & Robs Them of Nutrients – Infestations That Are Not Taken Care of Within One Year Will Often Lead to Death of the Hemlock

Schumer Calls on U.S. Forest Service to Prioiritize Funding to Better Control Spread of the Pest – Schumer Says Communities & Residents Need Resources & Best Practices To Help Slow Progress of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid


Pest Is Currently in 25 Counties Across NYS – Has Been Found In Following Counties In Past: Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Sullivan, Orange, Ulster, Dutchess, Columbia, Greene, Albany, Schoharie, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Delaware, Otsego, Broome, Tioga, Chemung, Steuben, Schuyler, Tompkins, Yates, Seneca, Cayuga, Livingston, Wyoming, Monroe and Erie

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to prioritize funding and resources to help communities across Upstate New York slow the spread of an invasive species, called the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, that has reemerged this year and could potentially kill hundreds of hemlock trees. The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is an invasive insect that feeds at the base of hemlock needles and ultimately kills the tree due to a lack of nutrients. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC), the hemlock woolly adelgid was first discovered in New York in the 1980s in the Hudson Valley. Since then, it has spread north and west to the Catskills, the Capital Region, the Finger Lakes parts of Western New York. In total, the pest is currently found in hemlock tress in 25 counties across New York. Schumer said that this invasive species has reemerged and spread again this year – particularly in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes – and has the potential to kill many trees again. Schumer said this pest poses a major threat to both the natural ecosystem and the local economy of many communities, particularly those that depend on the timber industry. Given the spread of the pest this year and the potential damage it could cause, Schumer said it is important that the USFS quickly dedicate all necessary resources to stem the spread of this pest. Schumer urged USFS to support projects that are aimed at the detection, eradication, and suppression of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid; and he asked USFS to engage with private landowners and local partners on how to best detect and address infestations.

“Invasive species like the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid are a blight on the Upstate economy and ecosystem. This pest has the potential to kill hundreds of beautiful hemlock trees and wreak havoc on Upstate New York parks and the Upstate timber industry,” said Schumer. “The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid has lingered in the Hudson Valley for years, but this year it is spreading to places we have never seen it spread before, mostly in the Southern Tier in Finger Lakes. Before this problem gets worse, the United States Forest Service should dedicate the resources needed to help contain the spread of this pest. Protecting our trees and forests from the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is critical to the continued vitality of Upstate New York and it is imperative that we find ways to fight it and raise awareness about how to control the spread.”

The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is an invasive insect that feeds on the sap produced by the hemlock tree. This pest feeds at the base of hemlock needles and ultimately kills the tree due to a lack of nutrients. This pest typically goes through two developmental stages during the year. First, during the months of March through June, the insect feeds on the sap of the tree until it is read to lay a batch of eggs, which hatch in early July. After this stage, the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid settle into another hemlock and become dormant until October. Schumer is calling on USFS to dedicate resources to contain the spread of Woolly Adelgid before the cycle begins again. They sustain themselves throughout the winter on the tree sap until they are ready to lay eggs again and the repeat this cycle.

According to NYS DEC, this pest has been found in 28 counties across Upstate New York since the 1980’s, including the following in Upstate New York: Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Sullivan, Orange, Ulster, Dutchess, Columbia, Greene, Albany, Schoharie, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Delaware, Otsego, Broome, Tioga, Chemung, Steuben, Schuyler, Tompkins, Yates, Seneca, Cayuga, Livingston, Wyoming, Monroe and Erie.

Schumer said that, without early detection, most trees will ultimately die from a Hemlock Woolly Adelgid infestation. Once an infestation is identified, trees need to be treated immediately. Trees typically need to be treated within one year of an infestation and are likely to die between four to 10 years of an infestation. Schumer explained that chemical insecticides, like imidacloprid, are the most common way of treating an infestation. Treatment can be administered by a professional or by homeowners who purchase the product at a store. However, these treatments can often be very expensive for homeowners that may have many hemlock trees on their properties to treat. Schumer also said that biological controls, like those released into nature to slow the spread of the Gypsy Moth, are also often effective treatments. Schumer said that, without drastic and immediate intervention, industries relying on New York for quality hardwood resources, like timber, will suffer.

In addition, the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid has the potential to kill trees and disturb the natural balance of New York’s forests, which provide recreational opportunities to many and foster tourism. That is why, Schumer said, it is critical that the USFS direct further research to examine potential biological controls for the Hemlock Woolly Adlegid and work with private land owners to best educate the public about the pest. Schumer is pushing for the USFS to rapidly prioritize funding and resources toward providing research that will help localities across New York State deal with the issue. Schumer is urging the USFS to dedicate all necessary resources to stop the spread of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, direct further research to examine potential biological controls for the pest, and work with private land owners to best educate the public about the invasive species. He is also pushing the USFS to work with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and other local governments across New York in developing effective models to slow the spread of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.

Schumer has been a longtime advocate of preserving federal programs that will help New York fight back against invasive species and pests. In 2011, Schumer pushed against proposed Congressional cuts for invasive species funding that could exacerbate Upstate New York’s growing Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) problem. 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. Trees infected with the pest usually begin to die within two to three years. The pest, which was first discovered in New York in 2009 and was discovered in Buffalo earlier in 2011, threatened more than 23 million ash trees in Erie County as well as the timber and lumber industries they support. EAB was first found in Cattaraugus County during 2009, and all 39 infested trees were destroyed.

A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to the U.S. Forest Service appears below:

Dear Chief Tidwell:

I write to bring to your attention the widespread damage being caused by the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, a small, aphid like insect that threatens the health and sustainability of hemlock trees across New York State. I ask that the U.S. Forest Service prioritizes funding and resources from the State and Private Forestry Program and the Cooperative Forest Health Management for further research and investments in technology to slow the spread of this invasive species. It is critical that the USFS supports projects that are aimed at the detection, eradication, and suppression of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. In addition, I ask that you engage with private landowners and local partners on how to best detect and address infestations.

As you know, most trees will ultimately die from a Hemlock Woolly Adelgid infestation. This pest feeds at the base of hemlock needles and ultimately kills the tree due to a lack of nutrients. The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid has been found in 25 counties across New York State; this poses a major threat to both the natural ecosystem and the local economy of the many communities that depend on the timber industry. It is important that the U.S. Forest Service prioritizes funding for the Forest Service’s ongoing Hemlock Woolly Adelgid efforts and allocates all necessary resources to effectively carry out its Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Initiative Strategic Plan.   

The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is the largest threat to the survival of the hemlock tree population in the eastern United States. I appreciate the work that the U.S. Forest Service has done to combat the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, but I ask that you continue to direct further funds and resources to examine all potential controls for the pest and work with local partners and private land owners to best educate the public about detection and treatment methods. I encourage you to work the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and other local governments across New York to coordinate further response efforts in order to slow the spread of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. I look forward to working with you to protect New York’s valuable forest lands and appreciate your attention to this important request.      

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

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