- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
Joyce interviewed Yana Valachovic, a forest advisor for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. Valachovic is also director of the UC ANR Cooperative Extension offices in Humboldt and Del Norte.
"For me, the challenge is communicating to the public the disease has not gone away; in fact, it's actually getting substantially worse," Valachovic said.
Sudden oak death is caused by the pathogen Phytophthora ramorum. Currently less than 2 percent of Humboldt County's 2.25 million acres of forest are impacted by sudden oak death. But the average annual rate of expansion per year is 3,500 acres, Valachovic said. One challenge related to containing the disease is the structure of California forest agencies.
"The wildlands of California don't have a single agency that's responsible for controlling invasive introductions," she said. "Secondarily, there is no funding source that is set aside to manage these kind of epidemics. And so everything is piecemealed together: piecemealed responsibility, piecemealed in funding to address these issues."
Furthermore, Forest Service funds can only be used for monitoring, containment and education.
Joyce concluded the story with a question: "How will we learn more about this disease that is spreading through our forests at a clip of about 5 miles per year?"
Read more about sudden oak death on the California Oak Mortality Task Force website.