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Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week: May 22 – 28, 2011
Louisville Slugger and The Nature Conservancy Encourage Fans to Help Save our Baseball Bats!

Louisville, Kentucky: The week leading up to Memorial Day (May 22 – 28, 2011) is Emerald Ash Borer Awareness week.  With baseball and camping on the schedule for many Americans this coming holiday weekend, Louisville Slugger® and The Nature Conservancy are teaming up to encourage the public to learn how to spot the signs of the emerald ash borer—and take simple steps to help avoid the spread of this damaging foreign pest.

The emerald ash borer (EAB) is a small green beetle destructive to all ash trees, including northern white ash, the wood of choice for baseball bats.  Often the damage these beetles do is far more apparent than the beetles themselves: ash trees with nearly leafless tops and odd leafy sprouts at the base of the tree. 
While no one can say for certain when the EAB arrived in the U.S., it was first discovered in southeastern Michigan in 2002.  It has since spread to at least 14 states and 2 Canadian provinces, including Pennsylvania and New York, the “sweet spot" for growing the highest-quality ash trees for baseball bats.  Millions of trees are being lost to this devastating insect. 

As many new infestations are found near campgrounds or parks— the direct result of the emerald ash borer being accidentally transported on firewood— Louisville Slugger and The Nature Conservancy are asking the public not to move firewood from one location to another during this upcoming camping season.  People can get tips and watch fun videos on how to avoid spreading EAB by visiting The Nature Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood website, www.dontmovefirewood.org
“Foreign invasive species, such as the emerald ash borer, cause billions of dollars worth of damage to the U.S. economy each year," said Terry Cook, Director of The Nature Conservancy in Kentucky.  “EAB is indiscriminate in that it attacks and kills all species of ash trees.  This includes ash that have been planted urban landscapes and those living naturally in our national parks and forests.  It can drastically alter the ecology of a forest and devastate industries that rely on ash for many consumer products." 
Louisville Slugger’s timber division is working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state department of agriculture in Pennsylvania and other states to monitor the situation as these government agencies try to stop the emerald ash borers’ spread.  By not moving firewood, respecting state regulations on moving timber, and staying alert to dead and dying ash trees, members of the public can make a difference. 

“Louisville Slugger has been making ash baseball bats for 127 years," said the company’s VP of Corporate Communications Rick Redman. “We’ve made bats for the greatest players in history, from Babe Ruth to Jackie Robinson, from Roberto Clemente to Cal Ripken Jr., and for stars of today like A-Rod, Derek Jeter, and Joey Votto, to name just a few.  As the Official Bat Supplier for Major League Baseball, Louisville Slugger is committed to providing the highest quality wood to MLB players for decades to come.   The assistance we’re getting from state and federal agencies and the public to slow the spread of the EAB is helping ensure we can do that."  

Louisville Slugger is confident that it will find alternative sources of timber for MLB bats in the event the worst case scenario would become reality: the destruction of northern white ash trees in the Pennsylvania/New York border area.

“We are proud to be partnering with Louisville Slugger to help bring attention to the threat the emerald ash borer poses to America’s greatest past time, baseball, and the iconic major league bat," added Terry Cook.  “Through this partnership we hope that we will not only be preserving ash trees and forests, but we will also help ensure that kids of all ages will continue to enjoy the ‘crack of the bat’ in America’s game." 

Keep alert to the trees around you. If you think you have seen evidence of the emerald ash borer, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture website to report the sighting at www.stopthebeetle.info.  

About Louisville Slugger®
Louisville Slugger® is the Official Bat of Major League Baseball and is a name that is synonymous with America’s pastime.  Originating in 1884, Louisville Slugger bats graced the hands of the greatest players in baseball history as well as those of stars today.  Louisville Slugger also makes TPX® baseball equipment for college, high school, and youth players, as well as TPS® equipment for slow-pitch and fastpitch softball players.  Louisville Slugger is a brand of the Hillerich & Bradsby Co., a fifth generation family-owned business that also owns and operates Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory and makes  PowerBilt® golf clubs, and Bionic® Gloves for a variety of sports and hobbies. 

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect important natural lands and waters for people and wildlife. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.

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