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5/3/2017 House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan Pens Letter to Governor Asking Her to Address Gypsy Moth Crisis
STATE HOUSE  --  In a letter dated and delivered to the Governor’s office on May 2, 2017, House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan (R-District 26 Coventry, Warwick, West Warwick) respectfully asked Governor Gina M. Raimondo to address the gypsy moth crisis in Rhode Island, by commencing a statewide caterpillar eradication program.
“The Governor simply cannot wait on this one.  She needs to immediately develop and implement a program to deal with these destructive caterpillars and preserve one of our state’s most valuable natural resources, our forests and woodlands.  Defoliation could negatively impact property values for residents statewide, by causing irreparable damage to precious neighborhoods and recreational sites,” said Representative Morgan.   
In her letter to Governor Raimondo, Leader Morgan writes, “As I’m sure you are aware, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is expecting Rhode Island to suffer a gypsy moth caterpillar infestation, for its third consecutive year. Our trees and forests already weakened by earlier caterpillar damage are in danger of dying.  Without action Rhode Island's woodlands could be devastated.  This is very scary news for anyone who owns property, or enjoys recreational open spaces in Rhode Island.
She adds, “Time is of the essence and our state’s preparedness for this potentially catastrophic environmental event must be paramount.  I am writing to ask that you immediately develop plans and implement a statewide program that will deal with this crisis and save all of our woodlands.  We simply cannot ignore the problem, as we did last year when approximately half of Rhode Island’s 400,000 acres of forest suffered severe defoliation. "   
According to RI DEM, in recent years, gypsy moth numbers have increased dramatically, which led to the caterpillar outbreak throughout Rhode Island in 2015 and 2016, and was the cause of severe defoliation of tree canopies throughout our state.  Now, DEM says, a significant caterpillar infestation is anticipated in 2017, and this could put Rhode Island residential properties, neighborhoods, forests, parks and green spaces in jeopardy.
The last significant outbreak of invasive caterpillars was in 1986 and at that time, 219,000 acres of trees were defoliated.  However, in 1982, a record-breaking 305,000 acres were destroyed. 

For more information, contact:
Raina C. Smith, House Minority Office
State House Room 106
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2259