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Emerald Ash Borer Is An Invasive Beetle Spreading Across The Southern Tier, Ravaging Ash Trees Used By The Cooperstown Bat Company & Others To Make Baseball Bats, Posing Worrisome Threat To The Local Economy 

Schumer Calls For Boosted Federal Funding To Stop The Spread Of The Emerald Ash Borer Dead In Its Tracks

Schumer To Feds: It’s Time To Strike Out The Emerald Ash Borer Once And For All

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today visited Major League Baseball (MLB) bat manufacturer, the Cooperstown Bat Company, in Otsego County. Schumer said the Cooperstown Bat Company is at risk of becoming one of the many victims of the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive species that is wreaking havoc on the ash trees used to make their baseball bats. Schumer argued that without significant federal action, the Emerald Ash Borer will continue devastating ash trees across the Southern Tier, driving up the price of raw ash material and cutting into the profits of producers like the Cooperstown Bat Company. Therefore, Schumer called for a major infusion of federal funding responsible for efforts to research and help curb the spread of rampant invasive species like the Emerald Ash Borer. Schumer said that not only would robustly investing in the extermination and control of the Emerald Ash Borer be critical to protecting the Southern Tier economy, but would also help keep ash-made baseball bats affordable, protecting the future of one of America’s favorite pastimes – baseball.

“The spread of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer all across the Southern Tier has not only harmed our forests, but America’s favorite pastime has also taken a big hit, with risk of an even bigger one if we don’t stop their spread immediately. Big league-quality bats have been made by the Cooperstown Bat Company for years, but if the invasive Emerald Ash Borer continues to ravage the supply of ash used to make the world-class bats, the company’s costs will rise and the game of baseball suffers,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why today I’m stepping up to the plate and calling on the feds to help strike out the Emerald Ash Borer once and for all. By boosting funding for the federal programs designed to research and help study how to best control rampant invasive species, we’ll ensure that the resources needed to strike out the Emerald Ash Borer are sent to the Southern Tier, shielding the regional economy and the game of baseball from damage.”

Schumer explained that the Ash Borer problem in Upstate New York is only getting worse, and federal resources are needed to continue to research how to best combat the invasive species’ spread. According to the Buffalo News, the overall economic toll of the Ash Borer is $2 billion per year. Since their arrival in the U.S., the Ash Borer has killed an estimated 50 million ash trees across the country. With this invasive species spreading across Upstate New York and the Southern Tier, Schumer said the Ash Borer could threaten the approximately 2,670,752 acres across Upstate New York that are covered in ash trees, and in the Southern Tier specifically, approximately 484,416 acres.

On top of that, the Emerald Ash Borer hurts local businesses that rely on ash trees for their livelihood. During Schumer’s visit to Otsego County, he highlighted the Cooperstown Bat Company as a prime example of a company that could be harmed by the further spread of the invasive beetles. Schumer explained that the Cooperstown Bat Company produces over 30,000 bats per year – many going to the MLB and its affiliates – and many of these bats come from ash trees. Schumer said that, because ash trees offer the right mixture of weight, strength, hardness and grain, it makes for the perfect baseball bat. And while bat-making with maple trees is becoming more common, maple trees are also threatened by invasive species of their own. Schumer said this underscores the need to fight all types of invasive species before they can negatively impact thousands of acres across Upstate NY and even undermine America’s pastime. According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, of the 1,925 bats located in the museum, 1,848 are made of ash.

Founded in 1981, the Cooperstown Bat Company has a long history of producing high-quality bats as both collectibles for display, and for on the field use in ballparks across the country - from youth baseball, all the way to the Major Leagues. The Cooperstown Bat Company, and their 20+ employees, take pride in only using trees within 300 miles of the company’s headquarters in Cooperstown. They begin the process of making their bats directly from the log. These logs are purchased from local loggers and log yards operating in the Southern Tier and Central New York, and are then processed and sold at the Cooperstown Bat Company’s facilities in Hartwick and Cooperstown, respectively.

"Ash bats have a long and storied tradition in baseball lore dating back to the birthplace of the game - right here in Cooperstown. Aside from the enormous economic impact the loss of ash trees would have on companies like ours, it would be sad to see this beautiful wood lost for good,” said Tim Haney, owner of the Cooperstown Bat Company.

“The Emerald Ash Borer has killed millions of trees across the United States over the years, and it now has Central New York and the Southern Tier squarely in its sights. Its arrival is not only a threat to the picturesque landscape of Otsego County and the region, but is an enormous problem for our small businesses- especially those like the Cooperstown Bat Company who depend on ash for their products. I applaud Senator Schumer for his continued dedication to small businesses across New York State, and for his efforts to combat this invasive species,” said Barbara Ann Heegan, President and CEO of the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce.

“The Emerald Ash Borer is a real and present danger to all of the ash trees in Otsego County. Reported in the town of Unadilla in 2013, the infestation has stayed in the southern end of our county for now, but will continue to spread and decimate the ash population. It’s more important than ever that forest land owners stay educated on their woodlots, and municipalities plan accordingly in anticipation of the loss of their ash trees,” said Joe Sweeney, a Forester with the Otsego County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Therefore, Schumer called for a major infusion of federal funding into the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service. Specifically, Schumer pushed to reject the administration’s ill-advised cuts to the Forest Service’s Forest & Rangeland Research program, and instead boost funding for the account. Schumer explained that the administration’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposed reducing funding for Forest & Rangeland Research from $220 million in Fiscal Year 2019 to $177.5 million this year, or a $42.5 million reduction. The Forest and Rangeland Research program studies ways to improve the health and well-being of forests and other natural areas in the United States, including research on how best to stanch the spread of rampant invasive species, like the Emerald Ash Borer. Schumer suggested that upon securing this much-needed funding increase for Forest & Rangeland Research, that some of it should be directed towards further researching the control and eradication of the Emerald Ash Borer, to help protect small businesses like the Cooperstown Bat Company and ash forests across the Southern Tier, Upstate New York and United States.

The Ash Borer is a bright green beetle that is invasive and aggressive, and it has been particularly damaging to New York State ash trees. This insect primarily targets ash trees and kills its host 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. It is often not discovered that a tree is infected, however, until it is too late. Schumer said the Ash Borer presents a major threat to Upstate New York because these trees are an integral part of its ecosystem and scenery. On top of this, Schumer said it is particularly dangerous when 50-foot tall, dried-out and brittle ash trees, often prone to snapping when an Ash Borer has done its work, are scattered across the backyards of homeowners throughout New York State.