WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee, recently urged 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 throughout the country. There are no known methods to control the Emerald Ash Borer.
"New York State is home to some of the world's most beautiful forests that today are at a major risk," Gillibrand said. "Unless we take action, this harmful insect will continue to spread and eat away at trees and forests. We need to make the right investment and bring this harmful insect to a halt before it's too late."
The infestation of the Emerald Ash Boer, native to China, was first reported in New York state in 2009 when it was found in Randolph, Cattaraugus County. It has since been found in 14 other counties, including Ulster, Greene, Livingston, Monroe, Steuben, Genesee, Erie, Orange, Albany, Niagara, Dutchess and Tioga, and has now spread to Delaware and Otsego counties.
New York's forests are also a strong economic driver. The state's forest industry employs more than 60,000 workers and generates approximately $4.6 billion to the state's economy, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The insect is suspected of first entering the U.S. near Detroit in 2002, where it led to the killing of millions of ash trees in the Midwest, then making its way to 19 states. The beetle has the potential to destroy upward of 7 percent of the state's forests and 7.5 percent of trees across the United States.
According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York has more than 900 million ash trees. Several counties in Western New York and the Finger Lakes have a highly concentrated ash population that makes up nearly a third of their overall forest.