IMPORTANT: Sudden Oak Death now in So. OR
Daniel B. Wheeler
dwheeler at ipns.com
Tue Aug 14 17:50:28 EST 2001
>From The Oregonian, Aug. 12, 2001, p A26
Tree disease creeps into Oregon territory
Forestry officials confirm Sudeen Oak Death in two sites near
Brookings and may burn the infected trees.
By ALEX PULASKI, The Oregonain
A dieseas that has decimated coastal California oak trees has
establiehs a toehold in Oregon.
Forestry and agriculture officials said last week that Sudden Oak
Death had been confirmed at two sites near Brookings in Southern
Oregon. Samples from seven other sites nearby are being tested.
Unchecked, the funguslike organism constitutes an aesthetic threat to
urban and rural live oaks and casts an ecoomic shadow over the state's
booming plant nurseries. Rhododendrons - a big chunk of Oregon's $600
million nursery industry - are among the disease's hosts.
"It's like a wildfire," said Suah Frankel, a U.S. Forest Service
plant pathologist who until recently headed the California Oak
Mortality Task Force. "You go into an area and the trees are all
But unlike California, where the disease was virtually ignored from
its 1995 discover until it had spread past controlling, Oregon
officials hope to contain it.
The affected areas are small enough - about 10 to 20 acres of both
government and privately owned land - that state and federal agencies
will attempt to eradicate the disease.
Dan Hilburn, administrator of the Oregon Department of Agriculture's
plnt division, said a public meeting with Brookings-area land-owners
and interested parties would take place within a few weeks.
"No one's ever tried to eradicate Sudden Oak Death before," Hilburn
said. "We think we have an opportunity because we found it so early."
Among the eradication techniques under consideration are controlled
burns of brush and trees and cuts of the affected trees and plants,
then burning them.
No one knows the disease's origin or how it is spread. The disease
has no known cure.
The organisms, Phytophthora ramorum, invades trees through the bark.
Within weeks, the tree's crown will turn from green to brown.
That coloration change allowed plant pathologists conducting a
routine flyover to spot something amiss near Brookings - 220 miles
from the disease's then-known northmost point near Mendocino.
The disease's plant hosts include tanoak, Shreve's oak, black oak,
Oregon myrtle, arrowwood, evergreen huckleberry and California
buckeye. It does not affect prime timber such as Douglas firs.
In fact, because the disease was first discovered in tanoaks - a
forrester's pest becuase it competes with Douglas firs - California
officials let it run its course.
"Nobody was really concerned because it was on this species we treat
with herbicide," Frankel said.
But when majestic century-old live oaks began turning brown, then
black, oozing red and keeling over - the panic set in. Tens of
thousands of California trees are now dead and dying in marin,
Monterey, Napa, Sonoma, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz
Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler
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