Here is the text of the telephone voice message on the Gainesville SPB hotline, (352) 334-5096.

You have reached the City of Gainesville Southern Pine Beetle Suppression Hotline. On Monday, April 30, 2001 the City Commission declared an emergency in the urban forest because of an epidemic that has the potential to destroy pine trees throughout Gainesville. If you think your pine may be infested, your first action should be to call the Division of Forestry at 955-2005 or 955-2239 -- Repeat 955-2005 or 955-2239. A forester will visit your home to confirm whether your yard is the site of a Southern Pine Beetle infestation.

The forester will mark any infested trees with a red "X" - these are the trees which must be dealt with as quickly as possible. The forester will leave information explaining the seriousness of the threat this infestation presents to you and your neighbors. He or she will also have lists of tree surgeons, pulp wood operators, and others you might contact to get your trees removed. The point is to act quickly.

One alternative available to all citizens inside the corporate limits of Gainesville is a cost/share program. Alachua County has a similar program for residents of the urban area of Gainesville outside the City limits.

The forester will authorize a City of Gainesville contract whereby you will pay $110 to cut down and spray each infested pine. The pine tree will be taken down, and the trunk cut into pieces 5 to 7 feet long and sprayed with the insecticide chlorpyrifos, commonly known as Dursban. Once the infested pine has been cut down and treated with insecticide, it can no longer spread the infestation. Removing the trunk pieces, crown and stump will be your responsibility. The purpose of the City program is to stop the infestation, and this gives everyone the opportunity to immediately have the trees cut down, and will shorten the time this scourge is in our community.

To participate in the City program, you must either sign the contract that the forester has authorized while the forester is at your house or, within 3 business days of the forester's visit, you must deliver the signed contract to the billing office on the 3rd floor of City Hall. City Hall is at the corner of NE First Street and University Avenue, across from the downtown Plaza. Within the next few days, the City's contractor will take down and treat the pine, as explained in the terms of the contract.

It is quite possible that a local company can give you a better price for the removal of your infested pines than the City program, so during the three business days you have to make up your mind about the contract, you should contact several private tree removal companies for estimates. The purpose of the government program is to make sure that everyone has an option of getting their infested pines treated (or cut down) quickly and for a cost no greater than $110/infested pine. You must act quickly. It's important to note that this program is for actively infested pines only. These are the ones with the red Xs. Trees marked with a blue X were previously infested with Southern Pine Beetle, but now no longer harbor this tree-killing pest. Since they have no active infestation, trees with the blue X do not qualify for the City cost-share program.

Southern Pine Beetle infestations spread like wildfire. If your trees are infested and you do not act right away the beetles will quickly spread to other pines on your land and also to neighboring properties. To control the infestation, you must destroy the beetles. This can be accomplished by various means which the Division of Forestry representative can explain. Trees infested with Southern Pine Beetle always die. Within four weeks, Southern Pine Beetles grow from an egg to a reproducing adult with each female capable of generating 100 new insects. Each daughter in turn can generate another 100 insects. That's 5,000 insects from a single adult in just a few short weeks, and each of the 5,000 can generate another 5,000 in the same time frame. Because its a plague, we ask you to deal with infested trees as quickly as possible, either through the government cost-share program or contract with a private tree removal company. Please, do not delay!


  Prepared 28 Aug 2001. Last modified 19 Dec 2001. Send comments and suggestions to John Foltz.

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