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Mass. Gets $41.5 Million To Fight Invasive Beetle

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A tree removal worker watches as a log is removed on the campus of Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester on Jan. 5. Workers have destroyed thousands of trees in central Massachusetts in the battle to eradicate the destructive Asian longhorned beetle from the region. (AP)
A tree removal worker watches as a log is removed on the campus of Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester on Jan. 5. Workers have destroyed thousands of trees in central Massachusetts in the battle to eradicate the destructive Asian longhorned beetle from the region. (AP)

Federal agricultural authorities are adding an additional $41.5 million to help eradicate the invasive Asian longhorned beetle from central Massachusetts.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday that the funds, on top of $13 million already set aside for the effort in the 2010 fiscal year's agriculture appropriations bill, will be used for enhanced tree surveys, expanding the use of pesticides and infested tree removal.

The infestation in central Massachusetts has already led to the removal of more than 25,000 trees.

"We need to stop the beetle before it gets into the deeper forests, and we also need to use some of this money for a replanting effort, and a reforestation effort," said Rep. Jim McGovern, whose district includes 28 cities and towns across central and southern Massachusetts.

A pair of Asian longhorned beetle egg holes mark the trunk of a birch tree in central Massachusetts. (AP)
A pair of Asian longhorned beetle egg holes mark the trunk of a birch tree in central Massachusetts. (AP)

The state's agricultural commissioner, Scott Soares, said the agency is concerned about the infestation spreading to other areas of the state.

"The real concern is as we get out to more rural-type communities, where there are many host trees, that the beetle can spread like wildfire and could have significant consequences," Soares said.

Gov. Deval Patrick also met with state and federal agriculture officials Monday, and talked about how the infestation transcends a simple natural issue.

"If you think about the roles that trees play in all of our communities and our lives," Patrick said, "the problem very quickly devolves from an environmental one to a social one."

The black-and-white beetle was first seen in Massachusetts in August of 2008, and bores holes into trees, eventually killing them.

The state agriculture department is training volunteers in eastern and western Massachusetts to detect signs of the beetle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This program aired on January 11, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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