For Immediate Release - December 10, 2012

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR MURRAY AND CONGRESSMAN MCGOVERN ANNOUNCE FUNDING TO REACH GOAL OF REPLANTING 30,000 TREES IN COMMUNITIES IMPACTED BY ASIAN LONGHORNED BEETLE

Public-Private partnership helps communities reach goal line

WORCESTER – Monday, December 10, 2012 – Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today joined Congressman Jim McGovern to announce $3 million in state funding to support the Worcester Tree Initiative’s goal of replanting 30,000 trees by 2014 for communities in Central Massachusetts impacted by the Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) infestation.

“Investing these capital resources will make it possible for us to reach our goal of fully reforesting Worcester and the surrounding towns that were devastated by the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray. “These efforts will help to revitalize the landscape of these communities and I want to thank our partners in government, the private sector, and the community for working together to make this a reality.”

Over the last four years, the Patrick-Murray Administration has worked with agencies across state, local and federal government to support reforestation efforts in communities impacted by the ALB, providing over $9 million in public funding for this effort. As part of this overall work, Lieutenant Governor Murray and Congressman McGovern launched the Worcester Tree Initiative in 2009, a public-private partnership that set a goal to replant 30,000 trees by 2014. Through this collaborative approach, the Worcester Tree Initiative has involved resources from the City of Worcester, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), local non-profits, businesses and residents of Central Massachusetts.

“Like many residents from the impact zone, I have seen the devastation caused by the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation up close and personal," said Congressman McGovern. "But, over the past four years, I have also seen a historic public/private effort to bring back our community landscapes in Worcester and Central Massachusetts. These funds will go a long way towards revitalizing a healthier, stronger, and more diverse tree population in our region that we will enjoy for decades to come.”

The ALB was first found in the city of Worcester in August of 2008. Through this public-private partnership, funding has supported reforestation efforts and has helped to raise awareness and educate residents to identify ALB. Since 2008, DCR has worked with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and local officials to create a reforestation program in response to the discovery of ALB.  As a result, the program has removed more than 32,000 landscape trees and thousands of open forest trees in an attempt to eradicate the beetle. Local, state and federal officials have also worked together to replant more than 22,000 trees across Worcester, Shrewsbury, Holden, West Boylston, Boylston, and Auburn.

“This project demonstrates what can be achieved when we work together to rebuild and strengthen our communities, making them more beautiful than ever," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan, whose office includes DCR. “I applaud the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Murray and Congressman McGovern and the work of the Worcester Tree Initiative as they continue their replanting efforts.”

In addition to the $3 million in state funding announced by Lieutenant Governor Murray, the Worcester Tree Initiative was pleased to also announce increased support from the private sector to help replant trees in impacted communities. To date, the Worcester Tree Initiative has delivered more than $450,000 in private donations, including $50,000 announced by Walmart today.

"Walmart is pleased to support the environmental efforts of Lieutenant Governor Murray and Congressman McGovern to rebuild Worcester's urban forest and enhance the quality of life for city residents,” said Chris Buchanan, Director of Public Affairs and Government Relations at Walmart.

CSX, one of the nation’s leading transportation companies with a presence in Worcester and across the Commonwealth, has also launched an initiative called Trees for Tracks with the goal of planting one tree for every mile of the 21,000 miles of track across the corporation's national rail network. In Massachusetts, CSX has pledged close to $30,000 as part of this initiative, which has helped communities impacted by the ALB.

To expand the state's reforestation program, DCR was awarded $4.47 million in federal stimulus funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) in 2009. The funds were used to replant more than 13,500 trees – creating nine full-time and 150 seasonal positions. In addition to supporting reforestation, the program has also been used to help raise awareness and educate residents to identify the ALB.

In August 2012, the USDA announced that another $1 million would be made available to DCR to continue the ALB Reforestation Program.

"With this grant funding, DCR continues its ongoing partnership with local and federal agencies working to renew the Worcester community from the devastating effects of the Asian Longhorned Beetle," said DCR Commissioner Ed Lambert. “DCR remains committed to eradicating ALB and returning Worcester trees to full health.”

Some of the trees for the replanting effort have been provided by local growers.

“Nurseries are a vital part of Massachusetts agriculture,” said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Greg Watson. “We recognize the negative impact that Asian Longhorned Beetle has had on the Worcester landscape, and we’re glad that locally-owned nurseries have had the opportunity to contribute to the replanting effort.”

Massachusetts urban areas have an estimated 86.8 million trees forming an average urban tree cover of 25.3 percent with an estimated total value of $55 billion. Massachusetts is the third most densely populated and urbanized state in the nation.

Urban forests are comprised of street trees, open spaces, parks, forested patches, private yards and transportation zones lined with trees.

“This additional public and private funding is another major step for the Worcester Tree Initiative and its ongoing efforts to recover from the devastating impact the Asian Longhorned Beetle has had upon our community,” said state Senator Harriette Chandler.

“Central Massachusetts, and Worcester in particular, are known statewide for our public parks, environmental conservation, and forestry preservation," said state Senator Michael Moore. "This funding is a major step forward in rebuilding from the devastation caused by the Asian Longhorn Beetle, and I applaud Lieutenant Gov. Murray and Congressman McGovern for their leadership and advocacy in making this project happen.”

“The Asian Longhorned Beetle crisis and the formation and implementation of the Worcester Tree Initiative has served as a focal point of my tenure as State Representative for the 14th Worcester District," said state Representative Jim O'Day. "I am incredibly proud of the accomplishments of the Worcester Tree Initiative. Through the work and engagement of ordinary citizens, we have been able to address this crisis with education, eradication and re-planting. I am also grateful for my colleagues on Beacon Hill, Capitol Hill, and at City Hall for our coordinated effort to provide funding and eliminate the Beetle from Central Massachusetts.  Working together, we have turned this crisis into an opportunity to replant a lush urban canopy for Central Massachusetts.”

“This is a very important initiative for the City of Worcester and I am hopeful and confident that we will reach this goal by 2014,” said state Representative John J. Binienda. “The longhorned beetle epidemic was a catastrophe for our neighborhoods and it is vital that we replenish what the city lost.”

“As we continue to recover from the effects of the Asian Longhorned Beetle, I am proud of the work and success of the Worcester Tree Initiative," said Mayor Joseph Petty of the City of Worcester.  "With today's announcement of additional funding, the Initiative's work will continue to help re-forest the city. I want to thank Congressman McGovern and Lieutenant Governor Murray for their years of passion and dedication to the Worcester Tree Initiative as it works towards the goal of replanting 30,000 trees. Success is achieved when the public and private sectors work together for the benefit of the whole community and I look forward to continuing to work with everyone involved.”

"Today’s announcement reinforces the public-private partnership of the Worcester Tree Initiative" said Worcester City Manager Michael O'Brien. "These funds will get us ever closer to the goal of 30,000 new trees planted, an amazing investment in our environment, quality of life and our future. We are very grateful for the leadership of Congressman, Lieutenant Governor, Walmart, and all that have our City growing greener every day."

About DCR’s Bureau of Forestry

There are 3.2 million acres of privately owned forest land in Massachusetts and over 300,000 acres of DCR forests and parks. Municipal watershed lands cover 245,000 acres and there are 351 municipalities with associated urban trees and forests. DCR’s Bureau of Forestry serves all of these owners and the forest they care for through various programs including the Forest Legacy Program, the Forest Health Program, and the Service Forestry Program.

To learn more, visit www.mass.gov/dcr.

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