Private landowners with trees stricken by the Sudden Oak Death pathogen may be eligible for funds through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Oregon Department of Forestry to remove them and slow the spread of the disease.

Sudden Oak Death (SOD) is a pressing concern in Curry County and presents severe economic and environmental challenges, officials say. The southwest corner of the county is in a quarantine zone to prevent its spread to the rest of the state, where it could have dire economic impacts.

The quarantine already limits activity in the woods by prohibiting people from removing items such as firewood, bark and twigs from infested areas. Many countries will not accept items exported from a quarantined area.

Sudden Oak Death is caused by the non-native pathogen phytophthora ramorum and kills tanoak and California black oak. A European version gaining a toehold in the Willamette Valley also attacks Douglas fir, the state tree and a primary economic driver for Oregon.

The pathogen spreads during rainy periods when spores waft away in the wind or are washed downstream. It can also spread by humans transporting infected plants or soil — the primary reason campers are told to “burn it where you bought it” in regards to campfire wood.

The pathogen can lie dormant for years in soil or plants.

A multi-year study, too is getting underway to determine how SOD might be affected by intense wildfire, such as that in the Chetco Bar and Klondike fires that burned this summer and last in areas infected with SOD.

Eradication treatments require cutting, piling and burning all infected plant material and nearby host plant material within a specified radius surrounding those trees.

In addition to removing diseased trees, conservation practices may also reduce wildfire risk and create diverse, vegetative cover that will support wildlife habitat.

Money to treat the infested trees is available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a program that reimburses eligible landowners to treat infested trees on private land.

Priority will be given to landowners within the Sudden Oak Death quarantine area, which includes most of southwest Curry County. High priority will be given to SOD-infested properties whose owners do not have a forest management plan.

Others who believe they might have SOD on their property are asked to contact the ODF for more information.

Interested landowners can download an application at the Oregon EQIP webpage (https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps under Programs then Financial Assistance), obtain a paper application at the USDA Service Center at 382 North Central Blvd. in Coquille, or call district conservationist Eric Moeggenberg at 541-824-8091.

Applications are due by Oct. 19 for the first round of funding. Subsequent funding might become available in coming months.

Reach Jane Stebbins at jstebbins@currypilot.com .

21275191