Durbin Announces Federal Funding for Communities Infested by Emerald Ash Borer
[CHICAGO, IL] – Municipalities across Chicagoland will receive much needed federal assistance to manage and recover from the emerald ash borer (EAB) infestation, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) announced today. More than $1 million in federal funding is being distributed to fifty-eight communities in Illinois through a competitive grant program spearheaded by the Morton Arboretum and Metropolitan Mayors Caucus (MMC). The funding was made available through the US Forest Service, State and Private Forestry, as part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and a Durbin-authored provision in the 2008 Farm Bill.
“Around 20 percent of the trees in Chicago are ash trees, and as the infestation rapidly spreads, communities across the region are struggling with the costs associated with combating this destructive beetle. Many communities have tens of thousands of ash trees at risk. At an average cost of $500 per tree removal and a couple of hundred dollars more to replant a tree, an EAB infestation can have a serious economic impact on our communities. The federal funding distributed today will help alleviate the financial burden of removing infested trees and planting new ones for fifty-eight communities in the Chicagoland area. This has been a collaborative effort, and I am grateful for the work of The Morton Arboretum and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus,” Durbin said.
“This funding will not only address immediate local needs for coping with EAB, but will facilitate more comprehensive urban forest protection and growth to help maintain a robust canopy of trees for the long term. This is important to preserve the region's economic well being and help communities flourish,” Edith Makra, Arboretum Community Trees Advocate, said.
“The Emerald Ash Borer infestation crosses multiple city boundaries, meaning solutions should be addressed on a regional basis. This funding is crucial to preserving the quality of life in our region by helping local governments replace infested trees and restore diminished tree canopy. We are grateful to Senator Durbin and the Illinois congressional delegation for their assistance in securing funds for the Chicago region and the State,” Larry Hartwig, Mayor of Addison and Metropolitan Mayors Caucus Executive Board Chair, said.
The competitive grant program was designed to strengthen each community’s ability to build a sustained urban forest canopy. With the assistance of the Arboretum’s expertise, municipalities will now be able to acquire trees to replace those threatened or destroyed by EAB, plant the trees using best practices, and bolster existing community tree care programs or help governments roll out such programs. Grant recipients are required to prepare and submit local EAB management plans verified by certified arborists.
The newly-planted trees will provide environmental benefits such as clean air and water, reduced storm water runoff and erosion, and reduced energy demand as trees mitigate the heat-island effect. The tree planting will also have economic benefits, and will help promote Illinois’ nursery industry through the sale of replacement trees.
Communities received funding for reforestation and technical assistance through the 2008 Farm Bill and for targeted geographical reforestation through GLRI. In particular, the Farm Bill funded tree inventories and comprehensive management plans to help communities manage the immediate impacts of EAB and analyze their urban forests for future vulnerabilities. More than 150 grant applications were reviewed by a team of experts including representatives from the Morton Arboretum, Openlands, USDA APHIS, Lake County Forest Preserve, the City of Chicago, Illinois Department of Agriculture Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Citizen Advocacy Center, and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. Communities receiving grants have committed local matches totaling more than $2.4 million.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, EAB threatens an estimated eight billion ash trees in the United States, including 130 million in Illinois. Durbin has been actively involved in efforts to secure emergency assistance for dealing with EAB since it was first discovered in Illinois in June 2006. Since then, Durbin has helped secure more than $10 million in federal funding for EAB management in Illinois.
The Emerald Ash Borer, which has been confirmed in 16 counties including Boone, Bureau, Champaign, Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Iroquois, Kane, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, McHenry, McLean, Will and Winnebago, 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. Infected trees usually begin to die within two to three years. State officials have quarantined all or parts of 25 Illinois counties due to EAB infestation.
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