Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn and Queens, N.Y.) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan and Queens, N.Y.) joined forces with the New York City Parks Commissioner to call for increased federal funding to eradicate the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB). In recent years, federal ALB funding has fallen sharply in New York while Chicago has eliminated the vicious pest due to aggressive federal investment, according to a report released by Weiner and Maloney.
The ALB pest has already destroyed over 4,000 trees in New York City and 2 million more trees are at risk at the cost of billions of dollars in damage if the federal government does not act.
To secure the Big Apple’s fair share, Weiner will offer an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill that boosts federal funding to the level that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service says is needed to eradicate the beetle.
"Make no mistake, this is an obligation of the federal government," said Weiner. "This problem has crossed state lines, and remember the beetle wasn't born here—it's an immigrant."
The infestation is thought to have started with insects embedded in hardwood pallets and crates entering the U.S. from China.
Federal funding to fight infestation in New York City has decreased sharply from $23 million in FY 2002 to $8 million in FY 2006. Over the past six years, the federal government funded 92% of total ALB eradication costs in Illinois, 89% of total costs in New Jersey, but only 76% of total eradication expenditures in New York.
According to a study by the U.S. Forest Service, the cost of replacing ALB-susceptible trees in New York City could amount to $2.25 billion over time, and efforts to preserve the quality of drinking water in affected areas could add to the overall cost.
While infestation runs rampant in New York City, Chicago has wiped out the pest with a significant investment of federal funds. As a percentage of total costs, the federal government has kicked in 92 percent of the funding for Illinois’s ALB eradication efforts compared to just 76 percent in New York.
“In New York City's battle against the beetle, President Bush has been standing with the bugs,” said Weiner. “It’s time for the federal government to do its part to ensure that a tree will still grow in Brooklyn, and throughout the five boroughs of New York.”
“If anti-beetle funding continues to fall, so too will our city’s trees,” said Maloney. “We need to squash the Asian Longhorned Beetle before it ravages the quality of life in New York City and spreads across the nation. Without a doubt, this is one nasty little bug.”
Principally found in New York, New Jersey and Illinois, the ALB is an insect from China that destroys hardwood trees by disrupting the flow of nutrients and water through the trunk, roots and stem. In New York, 17 species of hardwood trees are susceptible to Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation. Efforts to control the ALB involve a combination of tree quarantine, the removal of infected trees and the inoculation of those that are at risk.
Source: Press release from the office of Rep. Anthony