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Public Statements

Letter to The Honorable Ed Schafer, Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

After Recent Discoveries of EAB in Chicago and McLean County, Durbin and Obama Ask USDA to Assist Illinois in Response Efforts

After learning of the newest discovery of Emerald Ash Borer in Chicago and McLean County, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Barack Obama (D-IL) today requested assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in responding to the infestation. Assistance may include resources for surveillance activities, deploying traps, setting up and enforcing compliance agreements and quarantine areas.

"We are writing to inform you of the recent discovery of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in Bloomington, Illinois, and to ask for your assistance in responding to this infestation," wrote the Illinois Senators. "With more than 60 miles between discoveries, responding adequately to this infestation will require additional resources. This discovery is particularly troubling given the destructive power of the Emerald Ash Borer and the significant distance between this discovery and the previous southernmost discovery in Peru, Illinois."

Last week, Durbin, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $32.5 million for nationwide efforts to combat and prevent the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). This funding represents an increase from the $ 30.7 million in last year's final Agriculture Appropriations bill. Additionally, the bill includes special language directing the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to work collaboratively with the City of Chicago to manage the infestation and provide appropriate resources.

The Emerald Ash Borer, which has now been found in Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, LaSalle County, McLean County and Will County, is a bright green beetle that kills trees by burrowing into their bark and destroying the trees' ability to bring water from the roots to upper branches. The bug is able to cause significant damage in a limited amount of time - infected trees usually begin to die within two to three years. Timely and concerted management efforts are vital to slow the spread of the infestation.

Since it was first discovered in Michigan in 2002, the Emerald Ash Borer has killed more than 30 million trees and has spread to Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Illinois.

July 21, 2008

The Honorable Ed Schafer
Secretary
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Schafer:

We are writing to inform you of the recent discovery of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) in Bloomington, Illinois, and to ask for your assistance in responding to this infestation. The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced this afternoon that the invasive pest was found in McLean County.

This discovery is particularly troubling given the destructive power of the Emerald Ash Borer and the significant distance between this discovery and the previous southernmost discovery in Peru, Illinois. With more than 60 miles between discoveries, responding adequately to this infestation will require additional resources. For example, it is likely that surveillance activities will need to be increased around McLean County, requiring additional personnel. If the beetle has spread to areas between Peru and Bloomington, a significant increase in resources will be needed to manage the spread of this pest.

As you know, since it was first discovered in Michigan in 2002, the Emerald Ash Borer has killed more than 30 million trees and has spread to Indiana, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Illinois. The bug is able to cause significant damage in a limited amount of time, which means that timely and concerted management efforts are vital to slow the spread of the infestation.

Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has established a productive partnership with the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and progress has been made in providing resources to the state through a federal-state cooperative agreement. In addition, Congress has provided additional resources to USDA's EAB program, which have been used to develop new EAB management techniques and technologies.

We ask that you seriously consider the funding needs of the State of Illinois in responding to this discovery. In addition, we invite you to visit Illinois to observe the recent infestation.

Sincerely,


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