TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nicholas P. Scutari, to appropriating $3 million from a USDA grant to combat the spread of the Asian Longhorn Beetle, was approved today by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
“Preventing the further spread of the Asian Longhorn Beetle is of the utmost importance,” said Senator Scutari, D-Somerset and Union. “If they are not checked, these pests could present a significant threat to not only our neighborhoods and parks, but to the entire American hardwood industry.”
According to Senator Scutari, the Asian Longhorn Beetle is originally from China, arriving on American shores in 1996, and has no natural predators in North America. The beetle attacks and kills maples and other hardwood trees, and the only way to halt its advance is to remove the infected trees, added Senator Scutari.
The bill, S-1828, will finance the Asian Longhorn Beetle Program, an effort between the Department of Environmental Protection and local governments to identify and eliminate infestations.
Senator Scutari noted that the insect has already been sighted this year in Union County, which has suffered the beetle’s wrath for the past several years. Trees in quarantined areas are removed, burned, and replaced with softwood trees that are inhospitable to the beetle, Senator Scutari said.
“While it is unfortunate that the trees have to be destroyed, it is the only effective way we have of controlling the problem,” explained Senator Scutari. “If we fail to act now the beetle will continue to spread throughout the state and beyond. It is essential that we intervene now, while the problem is manageable.”
The measure now heads to the full Senate for consideration.