March 24, 2008
Areas along Routes 34, 18 targeted for aerial combat
FREEHOLD – Naval Weapons Station Earle (NWS Earle) and Monmouth County have joined forces to combat the destructive gypsy moth caterpillars.
Capt. Gary Maynard, USN, NWS Earle’s commanding officer, and Monmouth County Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry have announced a partnership agreement today incorporating 607 acres of the weapons station into the county-wide aerial gypsy moth spraying program for 2008. The agreement enhances NWS Earle’s already-aggressive ground spraying program to control these pests and compliments the county-wide plan to eradicate them.
The agreement stems from a recent meeting regarding the county’s desire to conduct aerial spraying of select areas of the station. The areas to be treated are along both sides of the Route 34 corridor, bisecting the federal installation, and along its northern fence line bordering Route 18. The treatment will extend 500 feet into the station.
Tentative county plans are to treat these areas in late May when the caterpillars are active.
Capt. Maynard says, “This project is the latest of many partnerships we have with our neighboring communities. I’m sure the Navy’s participation will assist Monmouth County in attaining its gypsy moth control and eradication goals.”
“We are very pleased to welcome Naval Weapons Station Earle into the county’s aerial gypsy moth spray program,” Freeholder Burry said. “The weapons station is located entirely in Monmouth County and, therefore, is makes perfect sense to include in our aerial spray program those areas that are hardest hit to help limit the defoliation that is occurring there.”
NWS Earle has been partnered with Monmouth County’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program since 1999, the Mosquito Control Commission since 2001 and has many long-standing mutual aid agreements for emergency services with county towns. As part of the new partnership agreement, NWS Earle will spend $20,000 on the treatment to be applied to Navy property this year.
Monmouth County uses Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a bacterium, in its spraying program. The county and Navy hope to use Bt to create bands that disrupt the migration of gypsy moths through Monmouth County. Annual surveys of gypsy moth egg masses indicate a migration through the county on a roughly southwest to northeast path. NWS Earle’s area of highest egg mass concentrations is located west of Route 34.
U.S. Navy and county officials are optimistic that the station’s ground spraying treatment, augmented with the county’s aerial spraying, can restore some of the defoliation seen at NWS Earle.
Gypsy moth infestation is cyclical. Monmouth County resumed aerial spraying of Bt in 2006. This year, a total of 7,815 acres of Monmouth County woodlands will be sprayed. The state will spray 2,766 acres, and the county will spray 5,049 acres, including NWS Earle.
Spraying is expected to begin in May, when the caterpillars become active, and will last two to three weeks. Additional information on gypsy moths and the county’s aerial spray program can be found at www.visitmonmouth.com/shadetree