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Local News

July 31, 2013

Oneonta braces for invasive beetle

Considering the emerald ash borer, the city of Oneonta is en garde.

A working group has been discussing the encroaching presence of the insect and reviewing a proposal to address its arrival and the fate of the city’s ash trees. The 10-year draft plan outlines treatment or disposal of infested trees, replacement options and other factors and would cost about $256,100.

The first local sighting of an emerald ash borer was in Unadilla in May. As of July, no emerald ash borer has been seen in the city, officials said.

“We can’t stop it from coming,” Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller said Monday. “It probably is here.”

The question before the city is how to mitigate the impact, Miller said.

The emerald ash borer, an Asian beetle, was first found in the United States in Michigan in 2002 and has since caused the destruction of more than 50 million ash trees, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Adults are about 3/8 to 5/8 of an inch long with metallic green wing covers and a coppery red or purple abdomen.

Signs of tree infection include canopy loss and the yellowing and browning of leaves, the DEC said, and most trees die within two to four years of becoming infested.

Otsego, Delaware, Chenango and Schoharie counties are among at least 15 counties under quarantine restrictions for handling the emerald ash borer and its larvae set by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, urged for additional funding to help research, control and eradicate the emerald ash borer.

The pest was first reported seen in New York state in 2009. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Gillibrand asked for resources to control the invasive species and protect New York’s forests, according to a media release.

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