CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – The United States Department of Agriculture announced a plan to remove thousands of infested trees in an effort to eradicate the Asian Longhorned Beetle in Charleston County.
The foreign invader was found by a homeowner in the Town of Hollywood earlier this year.
Officials say once infested, the trees do not recover and eventually die. They also become safety hazards, since branches can drop, and trees fall over, especially during storms like hurricanes or from ice in the winter months.
More than 3,100 trees have already been found infested and will need to be removed, along with other at-risk trees near them. The removal processes will begin on November 16th.
The USDA began soliciting comments from the public in September before completing its Environmental Assessment and starting the eradication process.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Clemson University’s Department of Plant Industry have quarantined 58.6 square miles within Charleston County to prevent the spread of ALB to other areas.
Areas include portions of Hollywood, Ravenel, Adams Run, Johns Island and Charleston.
By law, the USDA said on Monday, people may not move regulated items, such as firewood (all hardwood species), nursery stock, logs, branches, etc., out of the area without a compliance agreement, permit, or certificate. Anyone who conducts commercial work on such items in the regulated area must enter into a compliance agreement with the ALB eradication program. To register for the free compliance training, please call 1-866-702-9938.
“With the landowner’s permission, we will also remove any ALB host trees within a half-mile radius of an infested tree. Trees will be removed with no cost to the landowner,” the USDA announced on Monday. “After removing a tree, the contractor will incinerate or chip the cut tree to destroy the ALB life stages (larvae, pupae, and adults) that may be inside. This will kill any ALB in the tree and prevent it from attacking more trees.”
Inspectors will continue surveying trees and will seek to notify the residents before surveying trees on private property. Inspectors are dressed in USDA or Clemson uniforms and will provide identification if asked.