Braley Works to Help Iowa Combat Ash Tree Crisis

Jan 15, 2014 Issues: Agriculture

Urges USDA to provide assistance to the emerald ash borer

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today sent a letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack at the US Department of Agriculture urging him to take the necessary steps to protect Iowa’s ash trees from the devastating emerald ash borer (EAB) infestation spreading across Iowa.

“The infestation of emerald ash borers is a real problem for families and businesses all over Iowa,” Braley said. “Failing to address it now will only make the problem more damaging and costly to confront in the future.”

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 across eastern Iowa. Last month, the beetle was found in Union County confirming the infestation is no longer limited to the eastern part of the state.

Cities and counties across the state face significant logistical and financial barriers to contain the devastation and dispose of the threat. In Iowa, there are more than three million ash trees susceptible to damage and removing the trees would cost approximately $1,000 per tree coming to a total cost of more than $3 billion.

“As you know the EAB is responsible for the devastation of the ash tree and will cost billions through the mitigation, containment and removal of infestations,” wrote Braley.

Full text of Braley’s letter follows; a copy can be downloaded at the following link: http://1.usa.gov/1hnZJyS

 

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January 15, 2014
 

The Honorable Tom Vilsack
Secretary 
US Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

As you know, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have released an omnibus appropriations bill for the remainder of fiscal year 2014.  The proposal provides $821.6 million for Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), maintaining the fiscal year 2013 level.

While I support an increase to the agency and will continue to, during these difficult times and sensitive negotiations I ask that you use all authority available to help states like Iowa contain and eradicate the emerald ash borer (EAB).  As you know the EAB is responsible for the devastation of the ash tree and will cost billions through the mitigation, containment and removal of infestations.

 

First identified in Michigan in 2002, this beetle has spread to 22 states, resulting in federal quarantines of six entire states and partial quarantines in eleven states, including Iowa.  My state is home to over 3 million ash trees, for which removal would cost roughly $1,000 per tree – more than $3 billion.

States will need additional resources to combat this problem, with many communities already suffering from staffing shortfalls.  For example, Burlington, Iowa is one of my state’s worst-hit communities.  With only two full-time employees on the city tree removal crew, they face logistical and financial barriers to properly and effectively contain the devastation and remove the threat.

Because this invasive species has continued to spread each year, this matter should be prioritized and efforts should be targeted to address the damage caused by the EAB. A failure to do so will undoubtedly result in this costly problem spreading to additional areas, and an even greater demand for financial resources in the future. I ask that you work within your authority to expand efforts to control and eradicate this invasive species in the U.S.  I appreciate your hard work on this issue and look forward to working with you and my colleagues in Congress to ensure that this issue is addressed in a timely and serious manner. 

Sincerely,

Bruce Braley

 

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