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(NECN: Mike Cronin) – One of the downfalls of summer in central Massachusetts is the Asian Longhorned Beetle. It’s been five years since the pest first surfaced in the area. Since then, tens of thousands of trees have been chopped down because of the infestation. One of the hardest hit communities, the town of Shrewsbury, is now taking action to figure out the best way to deal with the problem.
Trees dull the noise from nearby interstate 290, but Rona Harris is concerned she could soon have highway front property thanks to the Asian Longhorned Beetle.
“We kind of live in fear worrying whether or not our property will be affected,” she says.
Harris lives on Ireta Road in Shrewsbury. In the spring, she says the USDA removed many beetle infested trees in the neighborhood. Neighbors say this area used to be completely full of trees. So far, the USDA says they've removed at least 900 trees in the town. Along with the state, they've replanted some in people's yards.
“Obviously they're coming back and replanting but we don't know how long that's going to take,” says Dylan Dalple.
Nearby at the Shrewsbury Library, a group of Clark University students met with a focus group to understand what residents are dealing with.
“An important part of it is finding out how it's been for residents and their perceptions of how the whole thing has been managed,” says Clark junior Joseph Hersh.
He is one of those students working on a three year project to study the impact and responses to the beetle. They've already spoken to Worcester residents and policy makers and will present their findings next week at a stakeholder summit.
“Perhaps to have some dialogue and questions and see if there's any areas that residents and town officials would like to see us do research in.”
Specifically, Hersh is studying the areas most affected by tree removal - like Ireta Road. Harris says tree inspectors will be making return trips to check her backyard.
“I think they're probably doing their best,” Harris says, “but obviously the best is not going to be good enough for these people whose lost privacy and their foliage."