Weiner: Queens Needs Beetle Money
Congressman Anthony Weiner, who represents most of the west end of Rockaway has joined Congressman Joseph Crowley in urging the Office of Management and Budget to release $46 million for Queens and other boroughs to fight infestation by the Asian Longhorned Beetle.
According to Weiner, Brooklyn and Queens have received no federal funds to fight the beetle this year, despite the fact that Manhattan, Long Island, New Jersey and Illinois have all received federal dollars.
In 1996, the first Asian Longhorned Beetles in the United States were found in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Since then, the USDA has spent over $100 million to fight the tree-eating scourge, which has since spread to Queens, , Long IslandndManhattan.
Last year, many trees on the mall in the middle of Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Neponsit had to be removed due to the beetle infestation.
This year, however, the Federal government cut funding for the program in half, from an FY 2002 high of $50 million to $26 million for FY 2003. In response, the USDA reduced funding for New York from $32 million to $11 million, and cut funding for Brooklyn and Queens entirely.
Weiner and Crowley recently appealed to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to release emergency funds to fight the beetle. According to the Animal Plant Health Inspection Agency (APHIS), $46 million is needed to fight the beetle in Brooklyn and Queens.
"Brooklyn and Queens have been fighting the Asian Longhorned Beetle for longer and harder than just about any other community in the United States," said Weiner. "For the Bush Administration to cut funding to these long suffering communities now is an outrage. It's time for the OMB to step up to the plate so that we can stamp out this scourge."
"It is time to battle the beetle and not wait for the worst case scenario. Congress has recognized the threat that this pest is to the trees of New York, and now the White House should release the necessary funds to kill off this bug and protect our treasured parks and green spaces before we lose then all," said Crowley.