Jane Stebbins
The Curry Coastal Pilot

The impact of Sudden Oak Death (SOD) on Curry County trees is starting to hit industry pocketbooks, Brookings City Manager Gary Milliman learned last week.

Already, problems are arising with wood exports from within the quarantine area around Brookings, with South Korea refusing to take logs shipped from the Port of Coos Bay and bulb retailers refusing to import lily bulbs from Curry County.

State Rep. David Brock Smith of Port Orford anticipated that, and formed a SOD Task Force with U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley to address the problem and perhaps obtain federal funds to stop the spread of SOD.

Sudden Oak Death is a waterborne pathogen that attacks tanoaks — and now, other conifer trees. Stopping its slow but steady march northward — primarily to keep it out of the agricultural lands in the Willamette Valley — has been difficult, at best, primarily due to a lack of funding.

All of Brookings and much of the south end of the county is in a quarantine area, meaning wood products cannot be taken from the area unless they are certified to be pathogen-free.

Milliman attended the Economic and Workforce Subcommittee, whose role is to develop an outline for a study for the state Department of Forestry to assess the economic impacts of SOD.

Milliman said they’d best hurry.

The topic is serious enough to have brought representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, Association of Oregon Counties, U.S. Forest Service, the Governor’s Office, Business Oregon, three Native American tribes, the Weyerhaeuser Corporation, Brookings and Curry County to serve on the subcommittee.

“SOD is a very serious matter and could have devastating economic impacts on all of Oregon,” Milliman said. “We were shown a very good power point presentation on the spread of this disease and heard about a new strain of the disease, first discovered in Pistol River, that is now threatening conifer trees.”

The ODF estimates it would cost $4.5 million a year to contain SOD to Curry County. But the governor’s budget proposal eliminates all money to fight SOD. And House Bill 3151 would appropriate $695,000 to the effort over two years. Worksessions are ongoing in the House on that bill.

The SOD subcommittee also identified economic segments that would be directly and indirectly impacted by the continued expansion of the quarantine area, the loss of saleable trees and the potential that people could be restricted from accessing the forest to reduce the spread of SOD.

They also discussed impacts on the ability of local agencies to continue to provide services, including the idea of keeping seasonal firefighters to help treat infested areas.

Infested trees have traditionally been cut down and burned, and arborists say treatment plans should extend 300 to 600 feet from infested trees — which represents a lot of tree-clearing.

17027312