TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Nicholas P. Scutari, which would provide $1.3 million in federal funding to remove thousands of trees that have been infested by Asian Longhorn Beetles, was approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.
“The counties of Middlesex and Union have been the hardest hit areas in the State,” said Senator Scutari.
“The infestation of the Asian Longhorn Beetle is a serious matter because if not controlled, the insects could have devastating effects on the trees throughout New Jersey, and the problem could easily spread to other states,” said Senator Scutari, D-Middlesex, Somerset and Union. “Late last year the first cases of Asian Longhorn Beetle infestation were detected in Northern New Jersey and if this problem is not handled effectively and immediately, the lumber industry throughout the nation could be decimated.”
The bill, S-2314, would appropriate the $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 beetles attack and kill maples and other hardwood trees, and in order to stop the spread of the beetles, the infected trees must be cut down, according to Senator Scutari.
“You cannot contain the Asian Longhorn Beetle, the only way to get a hold of the problem is to remove the trees that are infested,” said Senator Scutari. “The beetles bring a serious threat to our trees and forests because there is no known predator for them in the United States, nor is there a pesticide that has proven effective against the beetles. So far, the most effective way to ensure that we eradicate this pest is to check areas where they have been spotted and cut down and chip any trees that are infested before they have the chance to spread their destruction.”
The Senator stated that, “After this, the trees are hauled away and used as fuel at a local trash-to-steam plant. All infested trees that are taken away and destroyed are to be replaced with varieties of trees the beetles do not like, through the state’s Community Forestry Program.” USDA officials believe that the Asian Longhorn Beetle entered the United States inside wood packing material that came from China. They were first discovered in the U.S. in Brooklyn in 1996.
Senator Scutari noted that in Middlesex and Union counties, workers must remove about four or five thousand trees before June 1st. It is necessary to get the work completed before the re-emergence of the beetles in the spring.
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.