Federal funding to revitalize forests being destroyed by the emerald ash borer and to help stem future infestations of invasive pests is being sought by U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.

“The emerald ash borer is devastating to forests, which are a central part of our economy, our heritage, and our way of life,” Welch said. The borer kills 99 percent of the ash trees in forests it infests.

The Invasive Species Prevention and Forest Restoration Act (H.R. 3244) would make federal money available for research into promising ideas for helping forests to recover from damage by invasive pests.

The bill would also expand and streamline federal invasive emergency response programs to ensure help is available when it’s needed.

Welch’s bill:

• Expands the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service access to emergency funding to combat invasive species when existing federal funds are insufficient and broadens the range of actives that this money can support.

• Establishes a grant program to support institutions focused on researching methods to restore native tree species that have been severely damaged by invasive pests.

• Authorizes funding to put to use promising research findings on how to protect native trees species.

The emerald ash borer, an Asian beetle, reached the United States in 2002. It targets and kills ash trees by depriving them of nutrition and has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees in 35 states.

In Vermont, it was detected in Orange County on Feb. 20, 2018, and is now in parts of Bennington, Caledonia, Chittenden, Franklin, Grand Isle, Orange, Washington and Windham counties.

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