Here is a summary of some of the work our office is doing during shelter in place.
Fire & Resiliency
UCCE Sonoma is building on the foundational work of other county departments such as Sonoma Water and Permit Sonoma, by providing outreach to private landowners to address forest health, vegetation management and fire fuel reduction.
Lake Sonoma Decision Support System: Development of an online geo spatial reporting tool to help landowners assess:
Match.Graze: development of an online database that connects land owners and grazers.
- Filmed educational videos
- Creating website
- Current status: roll out in early June.
Good Fire Alliance: partnership with Audubon Canyon Ranch to assist landowners in managing fire fuels through prescribed burning on private and publicly owned lands. The following prescribed fires are in the active planning stage:
- 100+ acre burn unit at Cooley Ranch near Lake Sonoma; late May.
- Sonoma Ecology Center is planning a burn at Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve; late May - early June.
- Bodega Pastures spanning several weekends in October/November.
Resilient Landscapes: Master Gardener collaborative project to:
- Host Firewise webinars
- Develop materials for Fire Safe Sonoma's Living with Fire brochure and webpage resource.
- Post Fire Survival/Mortality: research project to develop a quick and simple post-fire tree survival reference tool to aid with triage of burned landscapes.
- Working with local fire departments to homogenize fire-resilient landscape standards.
Oak Tree Health: organized, hosted and presented:
- California Oak Workshop with science based oak health information. Over 500 participants.
- Sudden Oak Death Blitz pivoted to online, educating and distributing 93 test kits to the public.
Food Systems & Security
- “Stay Home Grow Food” series has reached over 350 people with videos plus resources via an extensive social media campaign.
- Gardener Sense program delivered by video conference to help homeowners reduce water use.
- Master Gardener's are pivoting their classes to webinars.
The value of a strong, connected local food system to sustain the resiliency of our communities has never been more clear.
Coordinating with Sonoma County Food System Alliance and strategizing for a series of video conferences on longer term emergency food response planning & strengthening the local food supply chain looking to local production & distribution as part of meeting food need.
- Meeting on March 23 with over 50 emergency food responders to strategize on coronavirus response.
- Chairing the Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) Food group. Continue to collaborate with the group to meet the needs of emergency food organizations.
- Sonoma County Food Recovery Coalition
UCCE used connections to secure donations of over 12,000 wine boxes to
Redwood Empire Food Bank for boxing and distributing food.
Local Meat Supplies: Mobile Slaughter Unit (MSU)
UCCE is working with local livestock producers in Marin/Sonoma to create a business plan for an MSU which can assist local livestock producers with a local, safe option for processing livestock.
- Applying for USDA grant to assist these producers to determine the functionality of keeping it in production.
- Will develop educational and management strategies to ensure economic security for small-scale livestock producers.
Integrated Pest Management
- Collaborating with UC Davis researchers to continue projects that address soil and fungal pests that shorten the lifespan of vineyards.
Critical research on the newly detected invasive Mediterranean oak borer (pictured) found in valley oak in eastern Sonoma County. Collaborators include Cal Fire, US Forest Service, and CDFA.
4-H youth educational programs have continued to engage youth and adults with online technologies.
- Developed fact sheets to support volunteer educators in delivering online programs available at Youth Development Resources
- Short-term educational programs have been implemented reaching elementary-aged children with science and art content.
- Ongoing programming has been transitioning online focused for teens around college and career readiness (Juntos 4-H) and youth participatory action research.
Annual Sonoma 4-H Open House and ChickenQue transitioned from a full-day chicken BBQ lunch fundraiser to a radiothon.
- Partnered with local radio The Bull 93.7 to do a radiothon.
- The station promoted 4-H with interviews of staff, volunteers, and youth.
- The event also served as a public awareness campaign showcasing the program's legacy helping youth reach their full potential.
Working with local dairy and livestock producers to apply for grants from CDFA to reduce greenhouse gases:
- Alternative Manure Management Program
- Healthy Solis Program
If funded, these grants would bring over $5 million to reduce GHG by 4,154 MTeCO2
Support Local Producers
- Working with local creameries and FEED Sonoma, to develop a dairy CSA box option.
- Revisit the County Lands for Food Production program initiated by UCCE to increase the availability of county owned land to communities, farmers and ranchers.
- Find Local Food & Aid the Community
Providing information and updates.
Coronavirus Resources webpages provides information for agricultural enterprises focusing on financial resources, Ag worker safety and food safety and includes resources for where to find food from local farms and for opportunities to volunteer.
Sonoma county residents love their oak trees, and with good reason: Oak woodlands are a source of immense value not just to the more than 330 types of animals and hundreds of other organisms they support, but also to the cultural, economic, and social fabric of our society. Sudden oak death (SOD) threatens to unhinge these systems, imperil biodiversity, create hazard trees or fuel for fires, and potentially infect agriculturally or horticulturally important plants. So whether it means adapting educational events to virtual spaces, delivering materials by mail, training online, answering home phones instead of staffing the Master Gardener desk, or collecting leaves for the SOD blitz by bicycle while wearing a mask and social distancing, the UCCE Sonoma SOD Program is not letting COVID-19 slow us down.
A key endeavor of this group is the yearly Sudden Oak Death Blitz in partnership with UC Berkeley's Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab. This state-wide citizen science project allows landowners to receive free testing of California bay laurel and tanoak leaves, contribute to long-term scientific research, and update the SOD Map Mobile app used by landowners and professionals to assess disease risk in their area. As SOD Blitz creator Dr. Matteo Garbelotto wrote in a letter addressed to all Californians about this year's program,
“The SOD Blitzes have become a tradition for many, while providing key information to help us save our oaks from a devastating disease.”
UCCE Sonoma hosts six blitz events annually whereas most counties hold just one, and we were eager to test new areas of tree mortality that were discovered after last-year's blitz had already passed. Here's how we made it work:
- Training took place online.
- Three Zoom sessions were set up with SOD team members for participant questions.
- Collection packets were mailed to most participants, and the rest picked up following strict safety guidelines supervised by staff.
- Leaves were collected at homes and on public land by walkers, cyclists, and others engaging in outdoor exercise.
- Kashia Pomo staff continued to sample on their land.
- In collaboration with SSU's Center for Environmental Inquiry, we hosted the only SOD blitz in the state that was fully bilingual in Spanish and English.
Despite limitations posed by COVID-19 regarding how to train volunteers, access areas where leaves could be sampled, and safely pass materials and samples between participants and blitz organizers, this year's campaign is on track to be even more successful than 2019. Returning leaves by mail instead of in-person allowed residents on the coast and other remote areas to participate easily, leading to a better geographic distribution of sampling. Online trainings and Q&A sessions, though less personal and lacking physical demonstrations, encouraged people with schedule constraints to give the blitz a try. One participant with extra time on his hands reported that he thought this was a great way to give back to the community in a time of need. Based on the number of participants and collection packets requested, we estimate a 15% increase in sampling from last year, including all major areas of Sonoma county and most of Mendocino county.
And things are just getting started. Though a SOD-themed Plant Walk with the local Milo Baker chapter of the California Native Plant Society was postponed, discussions are underway about creating a live virtual field trip in its place, complete with 360 degree photos of highlighted spots along the trail. Similarly, SOD Specialist Master Gardeners have been presenting at public library series' for years, and are now hoping to create a recorded version to be posted on UCCE Sonoma's Sudden Oak Death webpage. Check back for announcements on these and other happenings.
Our gratitude goes out to every volunteer who has invested their time in staying educated, spreading the word, and participating in citizen science with us over the years, especially during the current shelter-in-place, with special recognition for our dedicated team of SOD Specialist Master Gardeners. We couldn't help our oaks without you!
- Author: Kerry Wininger
The dichotomy is real. Annually since 2006, Garbelotto's Lab has run a successful state-wide citizen science “SOD Blitz” campaign in each infested or at-risk California county; UCCE Sonoma coordinates this county's efforts. Volunteers in the community, from high schoolers to retirees, collect symptomatic leaves of the two trees most likely to spread the disease to oaks, California Bay Laurel and Tanoak, then Garbelotto's lab tests them. Results from the most recent Blitz show the largest increase in cases of Bay and Tanoak infections by Phytophthora ramorum, the causal agent of SOD, since the surveys began3.
What you can do:
The estimated true infection rate of Sonoma county trees more than doubled since just last year. A new outbreak has appeared in the coastal area of northern Sonoma County, and infections have re-emerged in areas from which the disease had previously retreated during the drought. Further afield is the most striking, and discouraging, discovery from last year's Blitz – multiple infections were detected in San Luis Obispo, more southerly than ever previously documented, paving the way to add a 16th county to those listed as infected in the state. Infection was also observed in the hot eastern vicinity of Ukiah for the first time, startling researchers who are accustomed to the pathogen's preference for moist, cool areas. Other findings include two new possible host species in the San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum, the first detected infections on Mt. Diablo in Contra Costa County, and an outbreak in southern coastal Mendocino County.
On the upside, substantially more trees were tested during this last blitz than in recent years, novel areas were sampled, and new participants joined the ranks of Citizen Scientists. New treatment recommendations out of the Garbelotto Lab show promise in helping individual trees more safely and effectively decrease their chances of infection if done so before exposure to the pathogen4.
Why should land owners and managers, businesses, and the public care? Sudden Oak Death poses many apparent threats as well as those that are less obvious. The dramatic loss of oaks and tanoaks impacts biodiversity, nutrient and water cycling, forest microclimate, wildlife, and erosion. There is the potential for increased fire risk and severity in areas with dead and downed trees, creating a safety hazard (Forrestel et al. 2015). Recreation in forests is altered (Kliejunas 2010). Traditional cultural practices are impacted. Even human health concerns such as transmission of Lyme Disease have the potential to increase (Swei et al. 2010). Lastly, economic consequences of SOD to land owners, municipalities, nurseries, and industry are estimated in the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars (US GEO 2006).
Now, more than ever, it's important for scientists, educators, professionals, and the community to come together. Though the news is disheartening, and attention may be elsewhere, collectively we can help slow the spread and cope with this disease that threatens to unhinge native California ecosystems and all that they impact.
Kerry is the new Sudden Oak Death Program Coordinator for UCCE Sonoma County, “I enthusiastically follow in the footsteps of the esteemed Lisa Bell, and am already in awe of the great work the Master Gardener SOD team does. I am eager to help get the word out about this challenge and how to face it, and hope to implement new ideas related to SOD content in environmental education and trainings for tree care professionals.” Kerry has an undergraduate degree in Biology from UC Berkeley, and has worked with various environmental organizations as a researcher, educator, naturalist, and communicator while pursuing a Masters Degree on SOD and insect herbivores of bay at Sonoma State University. She has presented research at conferences, such as last summer's SOD6 Symposia in San Francisco that garnered international attention5, and the California Forest Pest Council Annual meeting that this year focused much more on drought-induced beetle attacks in the Sierras than it did on SOD6.
If you are interested in learning more or getting involved, please contact Kerry Wininger firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Drought slows spread of sudden oak death in Sonoma County, The Press Democrat, Sept 29, 2015
2. Sudden oak death in Sonoma County explodes, thanks to winter rains, The Press Democrat, Oct 18, 2016
3. Largest Sudden Oak Death Expansion in California in a Decade, CA Oak Mortality Task Force, Oct 14, 2016
4. SOD Disease Management, UC Berkeley Forest Pathology & Mycology Lab, Oct 20, 2016
5. SOD 6th Science Symposium, UCANR, June 21-23, 2016
7. SOD, UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County
8. TreeFAQs, UC Berkeley Forest Pathology & Mycology Lab
Forrestel, AB, Ramage, BS, Moody, T, Moritz, MA, Stephens, SL. 2015. "Disease, fuels and potential fire behavior: Impacts of Sudden Oak Death in two coastal California forest types." Forest Ecology and Management, 348: 23-30.
(GAO) US Government Accountability Office, 2006. Invasive Forest Pests: lessons learned from three recent infestations may aid in managing future efforts. Report from the United States Government Accountability Office to the Chairman, Committee on Resources, House of Representatives.
Kliejunas, JT. 2010 Sudden oak death and Phytophthora ramorum: a summary of the literature. US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: General Technical Report PSW-GTR-234.
Swei, A; Ostfeld, RS.; Lane, RS.; Briggs, CJ. Oecologia. 2011. Effects of an invasive forest pathogen on abundance of ticks and their vertebrate hosts in a California Lyme disease focus. 166(1):91-100.
- Author: Lisa Bell
Garbelotto presented guidelines for California bay tree removal—the first defense in preserving your susceptible oak trees—as well as dosage changes in chemical treatments for oaks.
SODMAP Mobile is an app for tracking SOD. This App calculates the risk to your oaks based on real SOD monitoring data. In Sonoma County, these data are created mainly by the public each spring during the SOD BLITZ, an educational, data-collecting weekend led by the Sonoma County SOD program coordinator, Lisa Bell, and the UC Master Gardeners.
Photo from SODMAP Mobile shows infected trees, marked with red pins, along a road near Freestone, Sonoma County.
Learn more about Sudden Oak Death in Sonoma County.
- Author: Lisa Bell
A Citizen Science Project
What is the Sudden Oak Death Blitz?
- Spend one hour learning basic disease biology and how to identify it in the field, making you an expert
- Receive all necessary collection materials and instructions on how to sample. Note that sampling has to happen 1-2 days after the training
- Spend 1-4 hours on your own in a location of your choice (your property, business, favorite forest or campground) looking for disease symptoms and collecting symptomatic leaves
- Click here to Register for this free event
You will become officially a citizen scientist and your published disease distribution data will help save our oaks. All at no cost to you. Tree care specialists attending the training can bring in clients' samples.
10-11 a.m. Saturday May 30, 2015.
Santa Rosa: Spring Lake Park Environmental Discovery Center. Use park entrance at Violetti Drive, upper parking lot. 393 Violetti Drive, Santa Rosa, CA 95409
Graton: Graton Community Club at Main and N Edison in Graton. Map and Directions.
Cloverdale: Cloverdale Historical Society, 215 N Cloverdale Blvd. Map and Directions.
This is a free event. Register here.
Oaks become at risk if the disease is within 200 yards from them!
Find out if SOD is 200 yards away, here's how.
A message from Matteo Garbelotto, SOD Researcher, UC Berkeley: Many of our tree species are susceptible to SOD and several oak species and tanoaks can be killed in large numbers; in the worst sites 70-100% of trees are dead. Since its introduction, the disease has been spreading slowly but steadily and now it is present in 15 contiguous counties from Humboldt to Monterey. In about 15 years of research we have found several effective control measures, but these need to be applied before oaks are infected. Oaks become at risk exclusively if the disease is within 200 yards from them!!
Each year there is a massive surveying effort organized by U.C Berkeley with the help of organizations such as UCCE, the California Native Plant Society and the US Forest Service. This effort represents one of the strongest and now prolonged "citizen science" effort not only in the State, but in the whole country. The volunteer-based surveys have been dubbed SOD BLITZES and we are asking you to join the effort: we need your help to track this tree killer. All data generated by the BLITZES is made public through the web on SODmap Project, the SODmap Mobie app and the media. Learn More