Asian Longhorned Beetle claims first Ohio trees; neighbors worry

TATE TOWNSHIP, OH (FOX19) - Maralah Rose-Asch returned home to her Tate Township neighborhood from a trip Monday and was not happy with what she saw. But federal and state authorities say it's a necessity if they are to keep the Asian Longhorned Beetle from spreading beyond Clermont County.

Rose-Asch told FOX19 that she and many of her neighbors understand the need to remove the 5,000 trees confirmed to be infested in the county.  But they are adamantly opposed to the proposed removal of some 50,000 trees that are adjacent to the infested area, and are highly likely to become infested, according to USDA officials.

"It's extremely emotional.  It impacts more than people. It impacts property values, and animals that live here.  That's a problem.  It will look like a devastated region," Rose-Asch said.

Christine Markham, who is the USDA's National Director of the ALB Eradication Program, says an environmental impact study of those at-risk trees is still ongoing, and must be completed before any decision is made about the removal of non-infested trees.

"Nowhere else in the state right now has the Asian Longhorned Beetle, and that's why we need to take decisive action in order to protect the natural resources of Ohio and thereby protecting thousands of jobs," said Dan Kenny, Agricultural administrator for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. "We realize this is extremely difficult for the folks that are affected. This is the last thing that we would like to have to do.  We work for the division of plant health. We believe in protecting trees. We don't like to cut down trees but this action is necessary to protect the resources of Ohio and the 87 other counties that don't have ALB."

Rose-Asch says many of the people in her neighborhood are concerned enough that they've banded together and contacted an attorney.  She says if they are told that those at-risk trees are to be cut down, they will fight it in court.

The group wants the at-risk trees treated with a chemical pesticide that may keep the tree from becoming infested. Ohio Agriculture authorities say chemical treatment is simply not as effective.

FOX19 will continue to cover this story.  Tree removal is expected to take several weeks.

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