ISLIP, NY -- (Marketwire) -- 08/25/11 -- The trees in Islip, N.Y., have been declared free of the destructive Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). The announcement was made Tuesday at a special event hosted by the United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. It was welcome news in the fight against this beetle, which has the potential to wipe out most of the nation's hardwood trees.
The ALB was first detected in Islip in September 1999. Its eradication was possible because of an 11-year cooperative effort between APHIS, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and various partners at the state and local levels, as well as the concern and involvement of the public.
'Efforts of this magnitude can only succeed when we all work together and are vigilant in helping to report and stop the ALB's spread,' said Darrel J. Aubertine, Commissioner, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. 'The biggest thanks go to the citizens of Islip, whose support was critical. Some allowed us to cut down several of their trees in the process to eradicate the beetle, and they can take pride in knowing that without their help, we would still be battling it today.'
'The successful eradication of ALB from Islip would not have been possible without the solid partnership between federal, state and local governments,' added Christine Markham, APHIS National Director of the Asian longhorned beetle cooperative eradication program. 'Eliminating the ALB required the continued communication between government agencies and the public, and a united commitment to eliminate the pest.'
To celebrate the accomplishment, government officials at the event, held in East Islip, presented a certificate of appreciation to the Town of Islip. They also planted a commemorative tree in Brookwood Hall Park, which was donated by the NYC Parks and Recreation.
In all, 181 infested and high-risk host trees were removed in Islip between 2000 and 2002. In addition, just over 23,000 surrounding non-infested host trees received treatment applications from 2001 through 2004. Now that Islip is ALB-free, APHIS will issue a federal order and the Department of Agriculture and Markets will revise its regulations, to rescind the seven-square-mile quarantine. This will reduce the regulated area in New York from 142 to 135 square miles.
'We have been happy to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to eradicate this dangerous threat to Long Island's ecosystem,' said Islip Town Supervisor Phil Nolan. 'I am proud to join in declaring the Town of Islip officially cleared of the Asian longhorned beetle, and I thank everyone for their hard work in this lengthy undertaking.'
'This beetle is a serious threat to our maple trees and we are excited to hear about the progress being made in eradicating it from New York,' said Helen Thomas, Executive Director, NYS Maple Producers Association. 'New York is the second largest maple producing state in America and the Asian longhorned beetle is one of the leading threats to our future. This is a very important announcement.'
'The Asian longhorned beetle poses a major threat to our trees, particularly our sugar maples -- the trees largely responsible for our beautiful fall foliage and home grown maple syrup,' added Troy Weldy, Director of Ecological Management for The Nature Conservancy of New York. 'This eradication effort exemplifies what our federal and state agencies can accomplish when the necessary resources are provided. These agencies need our full support as we look towards fully eradicating this destructive beetle from New York.'
'New York's forest products industry contributes $4 billion to the State's gross economic output annually,' said Eric Carlson, President and CEO of the Empire State Forest Products Association. 'The livelihood of some 60,000 people is jeopardized by this beetle and we are very encouraged by the progress in the fight to eradicate it from New York and the U.S.'
'More areas are starting to win the fight against this pest,' said Rhonda Santos of the ALB Cooperative Eradication Program at APHIS. 'We're hopeful that when people hear of the successful eradication in Islip, they'll be on the lookout for the ALB and report it when they see it. That way, efforts can be made to quickly contain and isolate an area from future destruction. We also want people to remember to not move firewood, which is the number one cause of the spread of this beetle.'
The ALB was successfully eradicated from Chicago, Ill., and Hudson County, N.J., in 2008. Islip marks the third successful eradication in the U.S. Currently, portions of Manhattan and Staten Island, N.Y., and Middlesex and Union Counties, N.J., are undergoing a survey process that, if successful, will eventually declare them ALB-free in 2012 (Manhattan) and 2014 (Staten Island and New Jersey). 'An area is declared free of the ALB after all the infested trees are eliminated and surveys are negative for active signs of beetle activity or the presence of the ALB,' explained Santos.
About the Asian Longhorned Beetle
The Asian longhorned beetle was first detected in the United States in 1996 in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, N.Y. It spread from Asia in solid wood packaging material that was used for imported cargo. It is a particularly serious threat, because it destroys many species of hardwood trees, including maple, ash, birch, elm, horse chestnut, popular and willow.
The invasive ALB has the potential to cause multi-billion dollar losses in industries that depend on wood and its by-products, such as lumber, maple syrup, nursery and tourism. Damage from the beetle also has the potential to destroy wildlife habitats, disrupt the ecosystem, and destroy host trees in yards, neighborhoods and communities.
The ALB is 1 to 1 ½ inches long and easy to spot. It is shiny black with white spots and has exceptionally long antennae banded in black and white. The worm-like larvae cause tree destruction by boring into trees and feeding on living tissue. Signs of infestation include perfectly round, dime-sized holes from the exiting adult beetle, oozing sap, and sawdust-like buildup on the ground or tree limbs. For more information, visit www.beetlebusters.info.
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