Byline: Bronislaus B. Kush
WORCESTER - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded $1 million to plant trees in the 110-square-mile area of Worcester County that's been infested by the arbor-eating Asian longhorned beetle.
"With our local, state, and federal partners, the USDA is doing everything it can to eradicate ALB in Massachusetts and restore a healthy population of trees to the affected communities," said Rebecca Blue, deputy undersecretary for the USDA's marketing and regulatory programs.
The city and some surrounding communities have lost about 32,000 trees since the beetle was first detected in Worcester in August 2008. The insect is known to prefer maples but has also infected ash, birch, elm, golden rain, hackberry, horse chestnut, katsura, London plane, mimosa, poplar and willow trees.
"The landscape across cities and towns in Central Massachusetts, including homes, businesses and neighborhoods, was devastated by the infestation of the Asian longhorned beetle," said Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, who, along with federal, state and city officials, announced the $1 million award at a program held in the Burncoat area, a section of Worcester severely affected by the infestation.
U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, said the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has spent about $116 million to date to eradicate the beetles here.
He said about 20,000 trees have been planted...