August 05, 2009

Senator Gillibrand Fighting for Ash Borer Funding – Receives Commitment from Chairman to Address the Issue

Emerald Ash Borer Threatening To Decimate 900 Million Ash Trees Across NYS

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Gillibrand continued her fight to ensure New York State receives federal funding to combat the Emerald Ash Borer. The disease is threatening New York's 900 million ash trees, which are part of the billion dollar timber industry in New York supplying furniture makers, hardware stores and the wood for Louisville Slugger baseball bats, according to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Agriculture Appropriations Bill has $39,705,000 for Emerald Ash Borer Monitoring, Containment, and Eradication. This funding would be used to combat and contain the emerald ash borer that is currently threatening 7.5 billion trees nationally - an economic value of over $300 billion. The current committee report lists 12 states which are affected by this invasive pest, but does not include New York State. Late yesterday, Senator Gillibrand received a commitment from the Chairman to address this during conference and allow New York State to access these funds.

"The Emerald Ash Borer has the potential to devastate New York's more than 900 million ash trees," said Senator Gillibrand. "We must help our communities with the funds to manage this problem and protect the environment."

"I would like to thank my colleague for bringing this to my attention and I will certainly address this issue during conference," said Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI).

The Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive insect that has destroyed over 50 million ash trees in the U.S. to date. If unchecked, the Emerald Ash Borer has the potential to cost billions of dollars in damage nationwide, including millions of dollars in costs to municipalities for street tree removal and replanting, and significant costs for private homeowners. According to a report by Michigan State University, it can cost $400 to remove and replace a single infected tree.

The Emerald Ash Borer is a beetle native to Asia that was first found in the U.S. in Michigan and has been steadily making its way eastward. It is a dark, metallic green beetle that burrows into tree bark and chokes trees to death by feeding on the live tissue that transports nutrients throughout the tree. Bug-infested trees typically die within five years.