WHEREAS, depending on the extent and potential for economic and environmental damage and loss, public programs to monitor, control or even eradicate such forest pests and diseases have been established to deal with them; and
WHEREAS, a domestic forest pest, the southern pine beetle, has migrated into New Jersey from southern states, and an initial outbreak was found in Cape May in 2001, where it has since been monitored; and
WHEREAS, sporadic control efforts have been made by the New Jersey Forest Service as the beetle progressed northward; and
WHEREAS, unless some action is promptly taken to stem this northern movement, there is the potential for the loss of tens of thousands of acres of pine forest, resulting in major economic and environmental devastation.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we the delegates to the 96th State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Cherry Hill, New Jersey on February 8-9, 2011, call on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, and the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, to promptly develop and execute a plan and program to stop the northern movement of the southern pine beetle.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that further action be taken by this group, in conjunction with other public and private forestland owners, to develop a longer- range program to control this potentially devastating forest pest.
New Jersey’s forests have been subjected to a number of invasive and domestic pests and diseases over the years. Yet in recent years there seems to be an increase in these forest predators and their potential for increased economic and environmental losses - even as forests become more valuable to the public.
Some of the forest pests and diseases are long-standing, such as the gypsy moth and Dutch elm disease. Others are newer, such as the Asian longhorne beetle, the oak bacterial leaf scorch, and gouty oak gall. The emerald ash borer is approaching our borders.
Many of these forest pests and diseases are extremely serious because they are exotic, invasive pests and diseases with little or no natural competitors or enemies in New Jersey to help control them. The same holds true for domestic forest pests that have not previously been found in the state.
Once a forest pest or disease becomes known through its initial impact or suspected damage potential, public programs are usually established to monitor, control or possibly eradicate the threat. This process, however, can be contentious because there are some environmentalists who believe that nature should take its course in the overall ecological scheme of things irrespective of any damage and/or economic losses.
The initial outbreak of the southern pine beetle occurred in Cape May County in 2001. It resulted in the death of localized pine tree stands. Since then, the beetle has been monitored by the state as it progresses slowly northward. Some small control programs were undertaken by the State Forest Service when the beetle was found in the state forests and parks.
However, the progression of the beetle northward is rapidly increasing. Now it is estimated that there are 12,000 to 15,000 acres of pine forests that are visibly damaged by the beetle.
The southern pine beetle is on the verge of becoming one of the most serious pests ever encountered in the pine forests of New Jersey. It is approaching the vast contiguous Pinelands of central New Jersey. If it becomes established there, it could result in the death of tens of thousands of acres of pines, resulting in untold economic and environmental damage to one of the major natural resources of the state.