TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Nicholas P. Scutari and Barbara Buono which would provide $1.3 million in federal funding to remove thousands of trees that have been infested by Asian Longhorn Beetles. The bill was approved by the full Senate today.
“The Asian Longhorn Beetles first appeared in October, and began destroying the trees of Middlesex and Union counties,” said Senator Scutari, D-Middlesex, Somerset and Union. “While the insects present no threat to public health, they pose a significant risk to New Jersey’s trees and forests. With no known predator to control them the beetles will continue to spread and kill even more hardwood trees, and, therefore, the Asian Longhorn Beetle problem needs to be handled effectively and immediately before the infestation sweeps throughout the rest of the State.”
The bill, S-2314, would appropriate $1.3 million to expand and support the Asian Longhorn Beetle program. The funding was awarded to New Jersey by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), to assist in eradicating the Asian Longhorn Beetle.
“The abundance of trees in our neighborhoods is one of the things that makes Central Jersey such a great place to live,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “By aggressively removing our infested trees, we can ensure that fewer of our trees are lost to these pests and begin to plant new trees to replace those already lost.”
According to Senator Scutari, the beetles attack hardwood trees, and in order to stop the spread of the Asian Longhorn Beetles, the infected trees must be identified and cut down. The Senator also noted that, in Middlesex and Union counties, about four or five thousand trees must be cut down and incinerated before June 1st when the beetles are expected to re-emerge.
Senator Scutari reported that, “All of the trees that have been affected will be used as fuel at a local trash-to-steam plant, and replacement trees will be planted through the State’s Community Forestry Program.” An Assembly version of the bill was also approved by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee today. The bill now heads to the full Assembly for consideration.