This was in today's paper:
Oak disease could hit coast's redwoods, firs
By Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press
JULIE JACOBSON / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Research assistants Amy Smith and Justin Tse scan the trunk and branches of a buckeye tree while collecting leaf samples in January at the University of California, Berkeley.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. Scientists confirmed yesterday that California's coastal redwoods, as well as Douglas firs, are among species susceptible to a disease that is devastating the state's oak trees.
The discovery could spell trouble elsewhere, especially in Washington, if the funguslike disease spreads, said Matteo Garbelotto, who teaches ecosystem science at the University of California, Berkeley. "That's really a huge concern," he said.
Experts said in January that they had found evidence of the disease in coastal redwood sprouts but were testing to see whether the spores were only on the trees' surfaces. They now have found the first evidence of sudden oak death infection in redwoods and Douglas-fir saplings.
"They've only found it on a few Douglas firs so far, but the question is, is there any resistance to it?" said Robert Edmonds, a University of Washington forestry professor. "This thing ... we don't know how to control it. That's the problem. The concern is that these introduced diseases don't have native resistance."
Researchers from the University of California's Davis and Berkeley campuses found the disease in redwood sprouts in Alameda, Marin and Monterey counties. They found infected saplings in Sonoma and Santa Cruz counties. Infected Douglas firs also were found in Sonoma County. The findings will be published next month in the scientific journal Plant Disease.
Researchers said it may take years before they know how seriously the highly contagious fungus will affect the giant trees. So far, they have not found disease symptoms or death in large mature redwoods or Douglas firs.
One of Edmonds' students in Washington state has been surveying for the disease among Douglas firs in the Northwest but has not found it.
"It's a soil-borne thing, but it does get up into the air as well, though we think it's spread largely on people's feet or machinery or automobile tires," Edmonds said.
"But it spreads very rapidly. ... If it just now got on Douglas fir, and if they died like the oaks did, it could be devastating."
Coastal redwoods, the world's tallest trees, grow only along the coastal fog belt, a narrow, 500-mile band that extends into southern Oregon. Besides their appeal for tourists, they and Douglas fir trees are logged commercially. In the Northwest, the Douglas fir is a multimillion-dollar commodity and the region's signature tree.
The fungus has killed tens of thousands of oaks along California's northern coast since it was discovered in Marin County in 1995 and affects at least 17 species worldwide 16 of them found in California. The 17th is found only in Europe.
To try to contain the outbreak, trees have been cut down, camp sites closed and a quarantine imposed on the movement of wood products containing the pathogen.
Seattle Times staff reporter Craig Welch contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2002 The Seattle Times Company