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Environment

As wildfires rage in the west, funding for Emerald Ash Borer control is drying up

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New York Invasive Species Information
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Emerald Ash Borer

bout half of the National Forest Service’s budget has been spent on fighting wildfires in the West and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said it is taking funding away from other critical programs.

Schumer announced his support for a bill that would increase funding to fight wildfires so programs such as emerald ash borer control would be fully funded. Schumer said that program is probably only half as effective as it was last year. The emerald ash borer is a small green bug, originally from Asia, that has been killing ash trees across the U.S., including in New York state.

"Ash is a very popular type of tree in the northern United States," Schumer said. "Now, this invasive species is spreading across upstate, threatening 2.6 million acres which are covered in ash trees. These beetles move slowly, but they can decimate acres of trees in a single year. If a tree is infected and goes untreated, it will inevitably die. The emerald ash borer has killed an estimated 50 million ash trees across the country since its arrival in the U.S."  

It is difficult to detect when a tree is initially infected by the ash borer because it burrows into the tree but eventually the trees will lose their leaves, turn brown and die.

The ash borer is negatively affecting businesses that use ash trees, everything for firewood to baseball bats. Schumer said they are looking to work on the bill alongside larger budget talks in the next couple of months. He hopes it will get done by the end of the year and the money would be available immediately.