The aggressive pathogen Phytophthora ramorum that causes Sudden Oak Death (SOD) continues to spread, adversely affecting more and more oak trees in the Bay Area and throughout the west. This past summer, the California Department of Food and Agriculture announced that SOD had been found in Contra Costa and Humboldt Counties. The Contra Costa confirmations came from samples on California bay laurel (Umbellularia californica) and coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) in Wildcat Canyon. The pathogen has also recently been confirmed in mature coast redwood from Sonoma to Santa Cruz and in Douglas fir trees in Sonoma, though it is not yet known whether the disease will be fatal to the adult trees of these two species. Politicians at the federal level are beginning to take the threat seriously: The Sudden Oak Death Syndrome Control Act of 2002, aimed at supporting SOD research, monitoring, and outreach, passed the House of Representatives this summer and is being considered by the Senate. Speaking of outreach, a group of concerned Marin County artists is collaborating with the California Oak Foundation to present “The Art of Saving Oaks,” from October 22 through November 16 at the Bay Model in Sausalito (more information at www.californiaoaks.org). The goal of the exhibit is to celebrate oak woodlands and provide information about SOD. If you are interested in keeping up with the latest on SOD, visit the California Oak Mortality Task Force website at www.suddenoakdeath.org.
Bay Nature magazine ◦ October-December 2002