Residents await release of new Asian Longhorned Beetle report

BETHEL, Ohio - Many Clermont County residents are anxiously awaiting a new report on the Asian Longhorned Beetle infestation and eradication efforts that is due out from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The report from Washington, D.C. will be released by noon on Wednesday, and will be available on the USDA plant health website.

Business owners, like Bill Skvarla, who owns the Harmony Hills Vineyard in Bethel, hope the report will not call for cutting down tens of thousands of trees.

Skvarla said he hopes that immunization and beetle treatment programs will be among the options available to landowners who have at-risk trees on their properties.

Skvarla estimated that earlier this year he had more than 7,000 trees on his 70 acres that would have to be cut down to prevent the infestation from spreading. 

Already, the Ohio Department of Agriculture has started marking at-risk trees, cutting them down, chipping the wood and removing stumps of infested trees. Some officials fear that as many as 50,000 trees in Ohio are infested or at-risk and may have to be destroyed.

Last November, Christine Markham of the USDA said more extensive tree cutting may be ordered after an environmental assessment is done. Depending on the assessment, the number of at risk trees could increase dramatically.

Wood from infested trees cannot be sold outside of the area because it's currently under quarantine. However, the wood can be cut into chips that are small enough to kill the beetle. The wood chips can then be used for mulch or to be burned to generate electricity.

"If they can figure out another way to stop this other than coming in and clear-cutting, I'm all for that," said Skvarla.

To see an animation of the beetle and the areas of the Country that are being impacted, click here.

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