State Enlists Caltrans Workers to Fight Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter
SACRAMENTO - Caltrans personnel working along the state's many miles of highway have just expanded their résumés-a cooperative effort between their agency and the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) puts these workers on the front lines of the battle against the glassy-winged sharpshooter, a flying pest that threatens many California crops, as well as ornamental plants and nurseries.
"Critical scientific research is already underway that is helping the state develop long-term solutions to this threat," said CDFA Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. "Meanwhile, the help of Caltrans staff is needed in the field to track the sharpshooter's movements so that we will know exactly where to focus our efforts."
The glassy-winged sharpshooter feeds and lays eggs on more than one-thousand types of plants. One of its favorites in California is the oleander, commonly found along state highways. Once oleanders are infected with the bacterium carried by the pest, the plants may die within a year. Other common roadside plants are also likely hosts, which is why Caltrans workers are uniquely positioned to help search for it. They will be trained by CDFA to notify inspectors if they detect glassy-winged sharpshooters.
Pierce's Disease has already wiped out $12 million in grapevines in the Temecula area, and now threatens a region in Central California that produces $2.8 billion each year in wine, raisins, table grapes, citrus and other plants.
The glassy-winged sharpshooter has already infested all or part of Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Ventura, Orange, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Kern, Fresno, Sacramento and Tulare counties. California Governor Gray Davis secured state funding and pursued additional federal funding to bring the total budget for this project to more than $36 million.
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