NEW JERSEY FOREST SERVICE
IN SEARCH OF SICK OAK TREES
Dozens of volunteers, foresters, and tree
care experts will spend time this September walking the
streets of over 100 municipalities from High Point to Cape
May. With clipboards in hand, their mission will be to survey
more than 10,000 of New Jersey's red oaks, scarlet oaks,
and pin oaks for the signs and symptoms of Bacterial Leaf
Scorch (BLS) disease.
These ground crews will work with helicopter
survey teams to determine the extent of BLS in New Jersey.
The disease has been observed from southern New York to
The New Jersey Forest Service's Community
Forestry Program is coordinating this extensive survey effort
with the USDA Forest Service, Rutgers University, the New
Jersey Community Forestry Council, and the New Jersey Board
of Certified Tree Experts, with funding provided by the
Oak Tree Disease bill, (S1368.) This $95,000 appropriation
will cover the volunteers' training in early September at
Rutgers University, the disease aerial and ground surveying,
as well as expenses associated with testing of samples and
preparation of the final report that will be submitted to
the state legislature.
Thanks to this state appropriation,
we will be able to determine the extent of this problem
and hopefully protect our State Tree, the red oak, and other
oaks such as the pin oak, the fifth most common street tree
in New Jersey, said state Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Shinn.
Bacterial Leaf Scorch in oak trees is caused
by a bacteria that clogs the xylem (water transport vessels)
of the tree. This blocks the water from reaching the leaves
and causes them to turn brown, explained Pamela Tappen,
the New Jersey Forest Service forester coordinating the
survey at DEP. This causes the oak leaves to look scorched
but remain on the tree through late summer until autumn.
Diseased oak trees lose vigor, and branches or entire trees
with severe leaf scorch eventually die.
Dr. James Lashomb, an entomology expert
at Rutgers, said the disease is moved from a sick oak tree
to a healthy oak tree by leafhoppers and spittlebugs that
are commonly found from Georgia through southern New York.
According to Michael D'Errico, supervising
forester of the DEPs Community Forestry Program, "This
survey is so important because we need to know exactly how
bad the problem is so that we can devise a strategic response
to protect the resource."
Roni Olizi, member of the New Jersey Community
Forestry Council, adds that, the loss of this resource
to our cities and towns will not only change their character
but will be a financial burden, as thousands of trees will
have to be removed.
Protecting these trees provides an extended
range of benefits to environmental quality including wildlife
habitat, watershed protection, soil conservation, greenhouse
gas mitigation, as well as recreational opportunities.
The USDA Forest Service, with the help
of the DEP, has published a fact sheet entitled Bacterial
Leaf Scorch Affects New Jersey State Tree. It is available
from the NJ Forest Service in Trenton or you can visit the
Department of Environmental Protections Community
Forestry Program website at www.state.nj.us/dep/forestry/community/BLS.HTML
for more information and photos.