First District Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, on Wednesday introduced legislation that would restore funding to programs that help combat the emerald ash borer, a tree-killing pest identified in eight Iowa counties.
The proposed legislation would fund two U.S. Forestry Service grant programs that would help communities combat the spread of the beetle.
“Resources were available to Ohio, Indiana and other states when they had this problem—and I’m going to fight to ensure that Iowans are treated fairly,” Braley said.
The legislation will help Iowa communities and homeowners with significant potential costs associated with ash borer infestations, he said.
The bill would provide an additional $20 million for two U.S. Forestry Service grant programs that help cities pay for tree removal and replacement. It would also restore $37 million to the USDA Office of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services, which researches ways to combat the spread of invasive species like the ash borer.
After other states had dealt with infestations, funding for the program was dropped to $8 million, leaving Iowa without resources previously available to other states, Braley said.
Iowa’s first ash borer infestation was found in Allamakee County in 2010. It has since been confirmed in Des Moines, Black Hawk, Cedar, Jefferson, Union, Wapello and Bremer counties.Of Iowa’s estimated 55 million ash trees, about 3.1 million are in urban areas, where removal costs have been estimated at about $1,000 per tree.