05.13.09

SCHUMER REVEALS: INVASIVE SPECIES THREATENING UPSTATE NY FORESTS AND TREES, INCREASED FUNDING FOR PEST SUPPRESSION PROGRAM WOULD HELP CONTROL SPREAD

Invasive Species Spreading Across Northeast, Ravaging Trees and Defoliating Acres of ForestsIn Letter, Schumer Urges Appropriations Subcommittee to Fund Pest Suppression Program to Eradicate Spread of Insects,Schumer: Invasive Insects are a Blight on our Economy and Ecosystem

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer joined Senators Robert Menendez, Robert Casey and Jay Rockefeller today wrote to the Senate Appropriations subcommittee urging them to support critical funding for the Forest Health Management's Pest Suppression program to fight the spread of invasive species threatening the forests and trees across Upstate New York and the Northeast region. The Pest Suppression program, which has been chronically underfunded under previous Administrations, funds partnerships with state programs to suppress, eradicate, and slow the spread of invasive insects like the gypsy moth, emerald ash borer, and the southern pine beetle.
In an effort to ensure proper funding is secured through fiscal year 2010, Senators Schumer, Menendez, Casey and Rockefeller wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander urging them to appropriate $56 million for the Forest Health Management-Cooperative Lands program.
"Invasive species are a blight on our economy and our ecosystem," said Schumer. "Protecting our trees and forest from invasive species is critical to the continued vitality of the region and I will continue to fight for funds that help combat these destructive insects to keep Upstate New York's trees and forests healthy."
Insects like the gypsy moth, emerald ash borer, and the southern pine beetle threaten the livelihood of forests and trees every year. The gypsy moth is especially dangerous to forests in Upstate New York because it is one of the most notorious pests of deciduous trees, like hemlocks. Since 1980, the gypsy moth has defoliated close to a million or more forested acres each year. In 1981, a record 12.9 million acres were defoliated.
Both pines and hemlocks are subject to heavy defoliation during gypsy moth outbreaks and are more likely to be killed than hardwoods. A single, complete defoliation can kill approximately 50 percent of the pines and 90 percent of the mature hemlocks.
In 2007, the worst outbreak of gypsy moths in 20 years resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of acres of trees. The only way to prevent another massive spread is to ensure proper funding levels for the Forest Health Management's program.
 
The Pest Suppression program is the Forest Service's primary weapon against invasive species. The program aims to eradicate localized outbreaks, slow the spread, and suppress the insect population. Programs like the Forest Service gypsy moth program have been extremely successful, slowing the westward march of the gypsy moth by 50 percent.
 
The ecological and economic impact of Gypsy moth and other invasive species is a serious concern. Gypsy moth defoliation can change the complexity of understory growth resulting in an increase or decrease of certain fauna or flora. Consecutive defoliation can result in plant stress and possible death.
 
The previous Administration, failing to recognize the seriousness of the threat posed by invasive species, appropriated only $10 million for the Pest Suppression program in 2008. In 2009, recognizing that that the Administration's funding request was not enough, appropriated $46.3 million. However, funding levels are not enough to protect forests nationwide from all manner of invading pests. 
 
To ensure proper funding for the program, Senators Schumer, Menendez, Casey and Rockefeller, urged the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee to appropriate $56 million for the Forest Health Management-Cooperative Lands program. The Senators also asked for an additional $15 million for gypsy moth suppression and $15 million for slowing the spread. 
 
A full copy of the letter is below
 
 
May 13, 2009
 
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein                                   The Honorable Lamar Alexander
Chair                                                                           Ranking Member
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee                           Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
On Interior and Related Agencies                                   On Interior and Related Agencies
131 Dirksen Senate Office Building                              131 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510                                               Washington, DC 20510
 
Dear Chairwoman Feinstein and Ranking Member Alexander:
 
We are writing to ask for your support in appropriating critical funding for the Forest Health Management-Cooperative Lands program. This supports the Pest Suppression program, the Forest Service's primary weapon against the invasive species which can ravage our nation's forest and trees. It funds partnerships with state programs to suppress, eradicate, and slow the spread of insects like the gypsy moth, emerald ash borer, and the southern pine beetle.
 
There are three parts to the Forest Service gypsy moth program: eradication of localized outbreaks, slowing the spread, and population suppression. These programs have been extremely successful, slowing the inexorable westward march of the gypsy moth by 50%, and they are cost effective: the 14 participating states match every Federal dollar spent. 
 
By requesting just $10 million for this program for FY09, the previous Administration failed to recognize the seriousness of the threat posed by these invasive species. Congress, by appropriating $46.3 million for FY09, recognized that that the Administration's funding request was not enough to protect forests nationwide from all manner of invading pests, and it was especially inadequate to confront an exploding gypsy moth crisis. In 2007, we saw the worst outbreak of gypsy moths in 20 years, resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of acres of trees. We need to remain vigilant against this threat in 2010.
 
To that end, we respectfully request that you appropriate $56 million for the Forest Health Management-Cooperative Lands program. Furthermore, we ask that you include report language which describes the historic nature of the recent gypsy moth outbreak and requires the spending needed to fight it: $15 million for gypsy moth suppression and $15 million for slowing the spread. This is a pressing need for many communities, which have had to cut back on gypsy moth suppression as the cost of treatment materials have nearly tripled in recent years. While many towns will gladly match our spending in order to save their trees and agriculture, the largest beneficiaries are the states not yet afflicted with this pest.
 
Thank you for your consideration and attention to this matter.
 
Sincerely,



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