After waiting in anticipation for months, the results of Garber’s Sudden Oak Death (SOD) survey were released this past weekend. We are enthused to report that none of the two dozen samples collected in Garber Park tested positive for SOD. UPDATE: Sadly, after reanalysis of the samples collected, several bay trees did test positive for SOD. We are working on the next steps; identifying the extent of the infestation and recommending a control methodology. Yet, SOD was found in Claremont Canyon, so we know that the chance of infection is of Garber’s oaks is high. The old growth oaks in Garber show signs of age and have vectors wherein a pathogen could easily infect a given tree – i.e. beetle bore holes, bark damage, etc.
The downside of the results – published here in the SF Chronicle – indicate that SOD has spread, or that the larger sample size (more surveys) indicate that infection has spread well beyond what was originally known. This past SOD blitz collected some 10,000 samples from over 500 individuals. This is citizen science working at its best!
The infection rate of SOD is humbling and sad news in many ways, but we must also take it as a call to action. SOD is a real threat to our wildlands and it is rearing its ugly head. The Chronicle reports that “[T]he largest infestation was along South Skyline Boulevard, west of Saratoga and Los Gatos, where 97 percent of the specimens that were collected tested positive for the pathogen.” Golden Hour hopes to be involved in efforts to help stop the spread of this pathogen and create a 40 year plan for how to act as our oaks disappear.
Here’s what the Chronicle provides as “things you can do”. We do not endorse or recommend taking any such action without consulting an expert. We can do great harm if we just jump into action without having the hand of experience guide us. We believe that haphazardly removing Bay trees near oaks is dangerous and can have many negative impacts to wildlife, plant life, and people. Please contact the appropriate people at UC Berkeley with any questions.
FROM SF CHRONICLE: How you can help (NOT RECOMMENDED WITHOUT PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE)
— Remove bay trees near oaks; this increases the survival rate of oaks tenfold.
— Use phosphonate spray, which has proved to be effective against the disease.
— Avoid doing large-scale projects such as grading, soil removal or tree pruning in infected areas during the rainy season.