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Subject: USDA targets emerald ash borer for eradication
Date posted: May 16, 2003
Source: USDA Press Release
WASHINGTON, May 5, 2003--The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced that $14.55 million has been earmarked for the eradication of emerald ash borer (EAB) infestations in Michigan and Ohio.

EAB is an exotic foreign pest of ash trees in the United States. It was first found in July of 2002 in southeast Michigan, and was later detected in Ohio in February 2003. The pest is indigenous to Asia.

USDAs Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will work closely with the states and the nursery industry to eradicate this pest from Michigan and Ohio to survey surrounding areas for signs of infestation. In addition, APHIS will work with USDAs Forest Service on such issues as tree restoration and forest health monitoring.

APHIS has already committed $900,000 to EAB and is providing an additional $9 million for eradication and survey activities. From this amount, Michigan will receive the majority of funding totaling $8.6 million that will be directed towards eradication and protecting the nearly 700 million ash trees within the state. Ohio will receive $300,000 to eradicate EAB in Lucas County, and the Forest Service will receive $3 million for tree restoration efforts, national public outreach and forest health monitoring. Remaining funding will be allocated for additional cooperative activities around infested regions to include surveillance and methods development.

Ash trees make up a significant part of the Michigan and Ohio forest ecosystems. APHIS is committed to preventing the spread of this disease to the northeastern United States, where there could be a devastating impact on nursery, landscaping, timber and recreation and tourism industries.

Nearly 114 million board feet of ash saw timber with a value of $25.1 billion is grown in the eastern United States each year. Within 50 miles of the current infestation, there are 2,280 square kilometers of forest land, and 7,836 kilometers within 100 miles. White, black and green ash are widespread and an important component in the forests of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada.

The wood is used for a variety of applications including tool handles, wooden baseball bats, furniture, cabinetry, solid wood products, packing materials, pulp and paper. Ash is also an extremely popular landscape tree because of its tolerance of less-than-ideal planting conditions and resistance to gypsy moth and other pests. As many as 300 million landscape ash trees have been planted in Michigan alone, with approximately 28 million in the infested area.

Ash trees are native to the eastern half of the United States, as well as portions of the Pacific coast. APHIS recognizes that the economic impact would be severe if EAB were to spread from infected areas in Michigan and Ohio into the surrounding forests of the United States.

The USDA policy on emergency plant pests has been to be proactive and preventative. USDA is committed to strengthening various plant and animal pest and disease prevention and eradication programs, which in effect, are the backbone of the food and agricultural system. In this effort, USDA is also focusing on research and appropriate program modernization to keep pace with continuously emerging and often unique challenges.