Town Declares Beetle Emergency

Signs of pine beetle damage in a New Jersey pine tree in 2014 United States Department of Agriculture

A spreading infestation of southern pine beetles in Northwest Woods in East Hampton prompted East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell to declare a state of emergency on Thursday.

The beetles had been identified earlier this month as killing an estimated 800 trees on a six-acre tract in East Hampton, after aerial photographs and on-site inspections revealed dead and dying trees and other signs of infestation.

Since then, a number of property owners in the area have reported that their trees have been infested. More than 2,000 pine trees are now believed to be infested, according to a press release by Mr. Cantwell on Thursday.

Until now, East Hampton has been spared a widespread outbreak of southern pine beetles, which chewed through forests in the Southeastern United States and Long Island's Pine Barrens.

Signs of an infestation include clumps of resin visible on the exterior of pine trees, holes and tunnels in the bark, and reddish-brown dead needles.

Under the emergency declaration, the town's Department of Land Acquisition and Management is authorized to cut down infested pine trees on both public and private property with landowners' permission. Town staff is also authorized to enter private property to inspect trees, as well as to hire private contractors to augment town staff to deal with infected trees.

The Department of Land Acquisition and Management had already planned to seek state funding for a pine beetle containment program that would have begun in January.

Property owners who would like more information or to report an infestation have been asked to contact the town's Department of Land Acquisition and Management.