Babylon, NY - May 6, 2015 - New York State will receive a $1 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant to restore trees in communities affected by the Asian long-horned beetle (ALB), the state Department of Environmental Conservation announced today at a ceremony in the town of Babylon in Suffolk County. The grant is part of an interagency agreement to partner with USDA's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), USDA's Forest Service, state Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) and local partners to replant publicly and privately owned trees removed as part of the Asian long-horned beetle eradication program.
"The replanting of these trees will help preserve the tree canopy lost since the Asian long-horned beetle was found in Amityville since 2008," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. "Thanks to the efforts of citizens and the support of local government, we are proactively replacing trees in key locations."
Since July 2013 newly discovered infested trees within the quarantine zone on Long Island, largely within the Town of Babylon, have been removed by DAM to control the spread of the pest.
The grant funding will be used to replant trees starting this spring at these locations:
- The town of Babylon will replant more than 100 trees on public property including sites along Routes 109 and 110 and around Republic Airport.
- Trees removed along the Southern State Parkway will be replanted in agreement with the DEC and in accordance with the federal guidelines set forth by the USDA. The town of Babylon will replant trees removed from municipal property.
- Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County will use $595,000 to coordinate replanting on private property including private residential yards; St. Charles Cemetery; New Montefiore Cemetery; St. Charles Cemetery and Mt. Ararat Cemetery.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Public awareness and a quick response to newly discovered infested trees are critical in our efforts to combat the Asian long horned beetle, which has the potential to cause significant environmental and economic damage throughout New York State. Thanks to our partnership with DEC, the USDA and Cornell Cooperative Extension, the communities of Long Island are successfully working toward eradication and the new plantings will provide an opportunity for healthy new tree growth and regeneration for years to come."
In 2013 an alert citizen contacted DEC's central office which resulted in USDA's APHIS and DAM responding and identifying 500 newly infested trees. Currently, 137 square miles are under regulation for ALB in New York, which includes the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, and a portion of central Long Island. Infestations in Manhattan, Staten Island, and Islip have all been eradicated.
To raise awareness about this invasive pest, a ceremonial tree was planted by partner groups. Residents will be given the opportunity to have a replacement tree planted at or near the site of the tree removed in the eradication program. Cornell Cooperative Extension educators will provide materials regarding the "Right Tree, Right Place" method and maintenance tips to help the new tree survive.
The Asian long-horned beetle is a dangerous pest of hardwood trees. Native to China, Japan and Korea, the insect was likely transported via packing materials used for international shipping. The first infestation was discovered in Brooklyn in 1996. It has also been found in Queens, Nassau County and other sections of Suffolk County. The Town of Islip was declared eradicated of the beetle in 2011.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County (CCENC) - Private Tree Planting sites have been identified with the assistance of DAM. CCENC staff will visit owners to confirm acceptance of a tree, pick the site and arrange the planting. CCENC will use contractors, staff and volunteers to do planting. Owners will be trained to carry out tree maintenance, particularly watering. The estimated tree planting number to be planted on private property is 1500 trees. Public education, training and outreach will be carried out in the area of the tree removals.
"With our local, state and federal partners, USDA is doing everything it can to eradicate ALB in New York and restore a healthy population of trees to the affected communities," said Dr. Robyn Rose, National Policy Manager for USDA's National Asian Long-horned Beetle Eradication Program. "We also urge the public to remain vigilant in reporting any sightings of the pest. Together we can eradicate this beetle and ensure the health of our nation's trees and the local economies that depend on them."
"Trees provide many benefits to the environment and the people that live in these communities," said John Parry, U.S. Forest Service urban forester. "We are glad to assist our partners in replanting their urban forest."
"On behalf of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County and the County residents we serve, I want to express my gratitude in being selected for this re-planting/educational grant from APHIS, USDA- US Forest Service and NYS-DEC," said Gregory M. Sandor, Executive Director, CCE-NC. "We look forward to working with the many different partners joining forces on this project. Trees not only provide beauty in our landscapes but also provide social, communal, environmental and economic benefits for all. We are confident that the project will be a tremendous success."
DEC's Urban Forestry Program will continue to coordinate the project, provide outreach and technical assistance. Visit DEC's website for more information on ALB in New York State, including the ALB locations map.