Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) and Peter Welch (D-VT) wrote a letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke asking to identify strategies and funding opportunities to combat the arrival of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in Northeastern forests.

“This invasive insect threatens the health of forests in our region and it is critical that we respond quickly to its arrival in our region,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “As the Co-Chair of the Invasive Species Caucus, I will continue to work at the federal level to ensure that our natural ecosystems are protected from invasive species that threaten the health of our district’s pristine wildlife.”

“Vermont’s forests are a central part of our economy, environment, and way of life,” said Congressman Welch. “Unfortunately, our trees are threatened by the spread of invasive species such as the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. It is critical that the Department of Interior work with state and local agencies and provide the necessary resources to prevent the spread of these species and maintain the health of our forests.”

Click here for a digital copy of their letter; the full text is below.

The Honorable Ryan Zinke
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Secretary Zinke:

We write to request your assistance and attention in addressing an issue that threatens the health of Northeastern forests, the arrival of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.

As you know, the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid wreaks havoc on the Eastern Hemlock which is found in large quantities along the Northeast, including the Adirondack Park and southern Vermont. The ecological destruction wrought by these invasive insects not only threatens native forests but the economy of New York State and Vermont.

An effective response is essential during the time immediately following detection. As you are aware, the National Invasive Species Council has identified key steps for the government to take after a new invasive species has been detected. These steps include providing technical and financial support along with additional support on the ground. We would like to know what strategies the Department has identified to combat the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, if these strategies are being shared with officials in New York State and Vermont, and what funding opportunities are available through the Department for state and local agencies and organizations.

As Representatives of states that are dependent upon healthy forest ecosystems for agriculture, energy production, sporting, and tourism, it is vital that we reign in the invasive species already in our backyard while doing what we can to prevent the spread of new invaders. We urge you to respond rapidly, deploy available resources, and work with states and local communities to prevent a widespread infestation.

We thank you for your consideration of this request and look forward to working with you on issues related to invasive species moving forward.