Braley Introduces Legislation Helping Iowa Communities Combat Ash Borer

Feb 26, 2014 Issues: Agriculture

After the invasive species is identified in additional Iowa counties, Congressman proposes legislation providing additional resources

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today introduced legislation restoring funding to a program that helps combat the Emerald Ash Borer, which has recently been identified in seven Iowa counties, including Black Hawk county where it was first identified just last month. Braley’s legislation would also fund two grant programs run by the U.S. Forestry Service which would help local communities access grants to combat the spread of the beetle.

“Resources were available to Ohio, Indiana and other states when they had this problem—and I’m going to fight to ensure that Iowans are treated fairly,” Braley said. “Communities and homeowners throughout Iowa face significant potential costs and this legislation is about making sure they have the help they need.”

Braley’s bill would provide an additional $20 million in funds for two grant programs run by the U.S. Forestry Service, in which cities like Waterloo, Des Moines and others could apply for funds that could be used for tree removal and replacement.

Braley’s legislation would also restore $37 million in funding to the USDA Office of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) which researches ways to combat the spread of invasive species like the ash borer. After states like Indiana, Ohio, and Minnesota had confronted the issue, funding for this program was dropped to $8 million, leaving Iowa without resources previously used by other states.

The emerald ash borer is responsible for the devastation of ash trees and it’s estimated that the mitigation, containment and removal of infestations could cost billions of dollars. The first infestation in Iowa of the emerald ash borer was found in Allamakee County in 2010 and has since spread to Des Moines, Black Hawk, Cedar, Jefferson, Union, and Bremer counties.

In Iowa, there are more than three million ash trees susceptible to damage and removing them could cost approximately $1,000 per tree.

Braley has been active on this issue, last month sending a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack  urging him to take the necessary steps to protect Iowa’s ash trees.