Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today wrote Secretary Vilsack to ask that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) allow Iowa to receive the same amount of funds that other states have received as they combat the emerald ash borer—an invasive species that could potentially cause billions of dollars in damage in Iowa.
Mayors from 30 Iowa municipalities, representing over 900,000 Iowa residents, have signed on to Braley’s letter including Mayor Eric Bookmeyer of Mason City.
“Communities all over our state are, or soon will be, dealing with costs associated with the ash borer—and these mayors know firsthand that these pests don’t just harm trees, they harm city budgets as well,” Braley said. “Resources were available to communities in other states when they were battling the ash borer infestation and I’m going to do everything possible to ensure that Iowa is treated fairly.”
“It’s clear that Mason City will be dealing with expenses from the Emerald Ash Borer in the near future. We’ll take the necessary action to prevent injuries to our residents and their property—but that’s easier to do if Iowa gets the same resources to battle this pest that neighboring states received,” Mason City Mayor Eric Bookmeyer said.
States that found cases of the beetlein years past were given resources to aid in the mitigation and removal of infected trees, but federal funding hassince been drastically cut, leaving states like Iowa with limited resources to combat the problem.
“We hope that you will work to expand efforts to control and eradicate the emerald ash borer, and restore funding for this effort,” Braley’s letter reads.
Iowa is home to over 3 million ash trees. Each infected ash tree must be removed to maintain safety on public and private land, costing roughly $1000 for the removal and disposal of each tree.
The ash borer has now been confirmed in more than 20 states. Just days ago, Johnson county became the tenth Iowa county to identify the ash borer. The first infestation in Iowa of the emerald ash borer was found in Allamakee County in 2010 and has since spread to Des Moines, Black Hawk, Cedar, Jefferson, Union, Bremer, Wapello, Jasper, and Johnson counties. It is widely expected to spread to other parts of the state in the near future.
In February, Braley introduced legislation restoring funding to a program that helps combat the emerald ash borer. His legislation also funded two grant programs that would be available to communities facing significant costs from tree removal.
In March, Braley wrote a letter to congressional leaders urging that the funding be included in the 2015 appropriations bills.