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Pine Beetle Infestation Triggers State Of Emergency In East Hampton

Frank Eltman
A forester with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation holds four tiny southern pine beetles in the palm of his hand in the Rocky Point Natural Resources Management Area in Suffolk County, N.Y.

A growing infestation of pine beetles in East Hampton has forced the town to declare a state of emergency that could last until the end of the year.

East Hampton first discovered the infestation of southern pine beetles in a section of the Northwest Woods at the end of September. Since then, Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell says the town has already cut down more than 3,500 infested trees.

“Cutting the trees is the prescribed method of trying to stop the spread of the infestation and we’re being as aggressive as we can in getting that done.”

Town officials say controlling the infestation has already cost $80,000, and could double. But East Hampton senior environmental analyst Andrew Gaites says the coming cold weather could help stop the beetles from spreading.

“They go dormant under 40 degrees Fahrenheit – they’re inactive. So everyday I wake up and everyone's saying it's beautiful outside and I'm just thinking about the beetles.”

The town hopes to finish cutting 7,000 infested trees in the next few weeks. 

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