May 3, 2006 |
CONTACT: Jeannette Warnert, (559) 646-6074, firstname.lastname@example.org |
UC tries to stop northward movement of sudden oak death
Their techniques for fighting sudden oak death (SOD) are experimental and have been met with both skepticism and support by residents, however, project leader Yana Valachovic, the UC Cooperative Extension forest advisor for
SOD first appeared
However, as a burning ember might drift off to ignite another hotspot, scientists believe spores alighted on bay laurel, tanoaks and other susceptible plants in
The worker reported the sickly bay laurel and tanoak to Valachovic, who brought together representatives and scientists from UC Davis, California State Parks, California Department of Forestry, the U.S. Forest Service and others to quickly fund and implement a disease suppression program. Treatment began within two months.
David Rizzo, the UC Davis plant pathologist who first identified the cause of SOD, was part of the team.
“If we did nothing, the disease would continue to spread,” Rizzo said. “Our goal is to slow that inevitability down as much as we can. We are still learning about the disease, but in the meantime, we can’t wait till we know everything to start managing it.”
The project had to be completed within a tight timetable to comply with regulations that protect nesting habitat in the state park for the marbled murrelet, a threatened sea bird. Crews were brought into a 50-acre area to cut down all bay laurel and tanoak trees showing symptoms of SOD infection. Twigs, branches and leaves were burned. Logs were left to decompose. After the protected birds’ nesting season ends Sept. 15, crews will return to underburn half the treated area to test fire’s effect on the diseased area. All parts of the treatment area will be carefully monitored to determine whether the efforts cleared out sudden oak death. Infestations on 70 acres of private land near Redway and Garberville that were treated in a similar manner are also part of the study.
“We know the bay laurel and tanoak will re-sprout,” Valachovic said. “We hope that the new growth will not be infected with the pathogen. By comparing burned areas with those that aren’t burned, we’ll learn more about what works to suppress the disease.”
SOD was first discovered in
“Many plants and trees in our area may be infected by the disease, but most don’t die from it,” Valachovic said. “On the leaves of two particular trees, tanoak and bay laurel, the pathogen readily produces spores, which help spread the disease. Our experimental treatment efforts are focusing on these two trees to slow reproduction of the pathogen.”
P. ramorum can also infect the
Regrettably, as the efforts to suppress SOD in
“We just contacted CalTrans because the infected plants are in their right of way,” Valachovic said. “They’ll help us treat it. I think the spores may be moving up the air column that follows the
“This story has not yet fully unraveled, but the worst thing we can do is nothing.”
Yana Valachovic stands among felled diseased bay laurel and tanoak trees.