Oak wilt

Symptoms of oak wilt in A) white oak and B) red oak.

MIDDLESEX — The revelation last year that oak wilt had been identified in this Yates County town has created the need for a town-wide quarantine district.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced the quarantine Monday. It restricts the movement of oak wood and firewood of any species to prevent the disease from spreading.

Oak wilt, which is caused by the fungus Bretziella fagacearum, can spread from one oak to another even after the infected tree has died, so moving wood that may be affected can contribute to the spread of the disease.

The beetles that spread the disease are attracted to wounded oaks.

Oak logs and branch debris are prohibited from leaving the quarantine district unless they are chipped to less than 1 inch in two dimensions. Non-oak wood also is restricted unless it is 29 inches or greater in length for identification purposes.

In special circumstances, limited permits are available to move oak wood and firewood out of the quarantine district during the fall and winter months.

Contact the local DEC Lands and Forests office at www.dec.ny.gov/about/558.html for more information. DEC-led oak wilt management activities are underway in Middlesex and are expected to be completed within the next month. The DEC will conduct aerial and ground surveys in early summer to look for additional signs of the disease.

Oak wilt quarantine districts previously were established in the Ontario County towns of Canandaigua and South Bristol, along with all of Suffolk County; the town of Glenville, Schenectady County; and a neighborhood in Brooklyn.

The DEC recommends homeowners complete any planned oak tree pruning by March 15, before the beetles that spread the disease are active. The public also is asked to report any oak trees that suddenly lose their leaves during the months of July or August. Photos and details can be submitted to foresthealth@dec.ny.gov.

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