Mass. Town Taking a Bite Out of Beetle Problem

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Thousands of trees are being cut in Shrewsbury before they're infected by the Asian Longhorned Beetle (Published Friday, Jan 17, 2014)

    (NECN: Scot Yount, Shrewsbury, Mass.) - "Our cost is more the aesthetics and the impact of neighborhoods," said Shrewsbury Town Manager Daniel Morgado.

    The trees are coming down by the thousands. In Shrewsbury, Mass., the board of selectman has signed off on a plan designed to stop the Asian Longhorned Beetle from infesting the town's forests.

    In all, 92 acres of Red Maple trees will come down in forests owned by the City of Worcester, the town of Shrewsbury and St. John's High School.

    "We have to do some of these larger remove type operations, but we don't take any of these lightly," said Clint McFarland of the U.S.D.A who heads up the Massachusetts Asian Longhorned Beetle project.

    The beetle first showed up the area in the early 1990s as a stowaway on shipments from China. It eats trees, literally.

    "We've got quite a bit to lose because it is such a wide palate, this insect does not go after one specific type of tree, it goes after a wide variety of which is a large component of our forests," said McFarland.

    The impact is hard to look at. Seemingly healthy trees have to come down, but the town and the feds already have plans to replace them.

    "They'll be working with the neighbors on replanting plans, the area will re-forest over time, but initially when you go from a full forested area to many, many trees being removed, we've all seen that," said Morgado.

    At this point, there is still much work to do.

    "We are getting a head of it, these things are necessary to get us to that point, but we will make it by taking these actions, and we have made good work here in the last four and a half years and I just want people to know we are seeing very positive signs," said McFarland.

    The town has two $70,000 grants with which to begin replanting, and in the meantime, they hope to have the cutting all done before the end of May and the emergence of the beetle begins again.