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Gordon Triangle

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, November 10, 2004

BATTLING THE PERNICIOUS BEETLE, ONE STEP AT A TIME


On Monday, November 8, in Long Island City’s Gordon Triangle, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Department of Sanitation Commissioner John J. Doherty announced new wood debris guidelines. The guidelines are part of a larger initiative to curb the spread of the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), which poses a dire threat to the forests of the North Eastern United States. Due to the ALB, agriculture officials have removed and destroyed more than 7,000 trees in New York—nearly 4,000 of which were in New York City. The Asian longhorned beetle, which was first discovered in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in 1996, reappeared this summer in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Long Island City in Queens, and in the neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Prospect Heights in Brooklyn.

City, State, and Federal agencies are working together to eradicate the Asian longhorned beetle from New York City. To prevent further spread of the insect to un-infested areas, the USDA and the NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets have created quarantine zones around infested areas to regulate the movement of wood—and the beetle, which can travel it. Sections of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens currently fall within a Federal and New York State quarantine zone.

"The Asian longhorned beetle can have a devastating impact on our City’s and our nation’s trees," said Commissioner Benepe. "Residents of the three boroughs can help stop the spread of the beetle by simply calling 311 when discarding any and all tree prunings, firewood and other organic woody debris. Our goal is to eradicate this highly destructive insect from New York."

As of Monday, November 15, the New York City Department of Sanitation will no longer collect firewood and wood from trees growing on residential properties in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. Parks & Recreation will provide free on-site wood chipping and disposal. In order to schedule an appointment, residents of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens must call the New York City Citizen Service Center at 311 or request a pick-up online at www.nyc.gov/parks.

The Department of Sanitation will continue to service treated or painted lumber, which includes wood furniture, wood pallets, and building lumber, as well as mulch, chips and leaves. In addition, any organic woody debris that is generated from commercial activity is not eligible for the program.

"I urge New Yorkers looking to discard the appropriate types of wood and wood products to call 311 and schedule an appointment with the Parks Department’s mobile tree and branch chipping service so that we can stop the spread of these troublesome insects," said Commissioner Doherty.

"The handling of wood waste generated by private homeowners is a significant problem with the potential to inadvertently spread ALB out of established quarantine," said Joseph Gittleman, Co-Director of the Asian Longhorned Beetle Cooperative Eradication Program for the USDA. "The Mayor’s Office and Parks & Recreation are to be applauded for making the funds available and taking this important step in helping to eradicate the ALB from New York City and New York State."

The Asian longhorned beetle, native to China, Japan and Korea, is a voracious pest of the United States’ deciduous hardwood forests and urban landscape. It deposits eggs into healthy hardwood trees. After hatching, the developing ALB bores into the trees and feeds on living tree tissue. Adult beetles later emerge from exit holes and briefly feed on the small twigs and leaves of host trees. The ALB attacks many different hardwood trees, including all species of maple, birch, horsechestnut, poplar, willow, elm, ash, mimosa, hackberry, London plane, and sycamore. Signs of an infested tree include round pits in tree bark, oozing sap, accumulation of sawdust (from larvae boring), and round exit holes.

For more information on the ALB, visit the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website at www.aphis.usda.gov, click on Asian longhorned beetle under "Hot Issues."

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"Trees are the earth’s endless effort to
speak to the listening heaven."

Rabindranath Tagore
(1861-1941)

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