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Sullivan surrounded by invasive insects; Gillibrand seeks funding

The emerald ash borer has been found in the three New York counties surrounding Sullivan. They’re closing in on Wayne and Pike in Pennsylvania, too.
Contributed photo

By Fritz Mayer
July 31, 2013

TOWN OF BETHEL, NY — Emerald ash borers, those invasive bugs from Asia that are devouring millions of ash trees in the Northeast and Midwest in the United States, have now been discovered in locations in Orange, Ulster and Delaware counties, and it’s only a matter of time before they turn up in Sullivan.

On July 30, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee, asked U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for additional funding to help research, control and eradicate the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect threatening the 900 million ash trees in New York and up to 7.5% of trees in the United States.

Gillibrand’s letter said, “I am writing concerning the recent news that the emerald ash borer is now confirmed to be present in 15 counties in New York State… The insect was first reported in Western New York over four years ago, threatening nearby state parks and forests. The most recent news that Otsego and Delaware counties have been added to the list of infested counties in New York State does not give me confidence that the spread of this harmful insect will be subsiding any time soon.” She said the spread of the insect will only be stopped with resources from the federal government.

In Pennsylvania, the insect has been found in 43 counties, including Wyoming and Bradford, but so far none has been discovered in Wayne and Pike. Since first being discovered in Michigan in 2007, the insect has spread to 23 states and two Canadian provinces.

Because of the infestations, many states including New York and Pennsylvania are enforcing quarantines on the movement of firewood, and studies of biological controls of the insect are underway in multiple states.

Gillibrand said she is concerned about damage caused to forestry operations and also some industries, as ash trees provide the preferred wood for a number of products, including baseball bats.