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May 22, 2007

Gov. Blagojevich proclaims Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today proclaimed May 20-26 as Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week in Illinois to help make sure people know how to prevent the spread of the tree-killing beetle. The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is only capable of flying short distances on its own, so limiting the movement of firewood and other potentially-infested wood products is the single most important step individuals can take to prevent the spread of this destructive pest and save our ash trees.

“Trees enhance our state’s landscape and contribute to the quality of life in communities all over Illinois. The emerald ash borer has already killed more than 20 million ash trees since it arrived in North America just five years ago and now is threatening to destroy millions of ash trees here in Illinois. It’s important for people who live here and who may travel here to know what they can do to help stop the destruction,” Gov. Blagojevich said.

The emerald ash borer is a small, metallic-green insect from Asia that was first discovered in the United States near Detroit, MI, in 2002. It likely was transported here in wooden shipping pallets or packing materials. The first beetle detection in Illinois occurred last June in a rural Kane County subdivision west of St. Charles. Subsequent finds were made in the northern Cook County communities of Wilmette, Evanston, Winnetka and, most recently, Skokie.

The Illinois Management and Science Advisory Panel, a team of experts appointed by the governor that includes representatives from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA Forest Service, City of Chicago Bureau of Forestry, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, University of Illinois Cooperative Extension and Morton Arboretum, is coordinating the state’s response to the beetle.

“Our strategy to eradicate this pest has three components,” Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said. “The first component is a quarantine to stop the movement of ash wood and ash nursery products out of infested areas. The second involves the removal of infested trees to reduce the population of the ash borer and minimize its potential spread while the third, a comprehensive survey of ash trees in northeastern Illinois to determine the exact extent of the infestation, is completed.”

Areas under quarantine include all of Kane County and parts of northern Cook, western DuPage, northern Kendall and eastern DeKalb counties. More than 400 infested trees were removed this spring at no expense to homeowners as part of the population reduction strategy. An additional 1,000 trees in the region have been surveyed.

“Memorial Day is the traditional start of the travel and tourism season,” Sam Flood, acting director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said. “As campers and picnickers prepare for their family outings, we’d like them to remember that it’s okay to pack food and equipment, but not firewood. All firewood should be purchased locally from vendors at your destination and then burned before you leave to prevent new infestations of emerald ash borer.”

The emerald ash borer is difficult to detect, especially in newly-infested trees. Citizens should watch for metallic-green beetles about half the diameter of a penny on or near ash trees that are showing signs of disease or stress. Other signs of infestation in ash trees include D-shaped holes in the bark of the trunk or branches and shoots growing from its base. Anyone who suspects a tree has been infested is urged to contact their county Extension office. For more information, visit www.IllinoisEAB.com on the internet.

The full text of the Governor’s proclamation follows:

Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week
May 20 – 26, 2007

WHEREAS, more than 130 million ash trees exist in the great state of Illinois enhancing our state’s air quality, natural landscapes, recreational destinations, wildlife habitats, manufacturing, commerce, and property and land values; and

WHEREAS, increasing public awareness and understanding of the emerald ash borer (EAB), a destructive exotic beetle, benefits the state of Illinois by limiting the artificial spread of the beetle through the movement of firewood; an

WHEREAS, through the joint efforts of the states of Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin, as well as private, local and federal partnerships, we strive to protect the billions of ash trees in the United States; and

WHEREAS, employing a cooperative spirit and encouraging environmental stewardship throughout the states ultimately reduces the risk to the nation’s ash resources; and

WHEREAS, spring marks the beginning of the travel and tourism season in Illinois; and

WHEREAS, Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week is an opportunity for the government to join forces with business, industry, environmental groups, community organizations, tourists and citizens to take action against the introduction and spread of EAB:

THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim May 20 – 26, 2007 as EMERALD ASH BORER AWARENESS WEEK in Illinois, and encourage all citizens to increase their understanding and awareness of EAB and its environmental, ecological, and economic impact on the state of Illinois and
the nation.


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