Glen Oaks cleared of oak wilt

DEC completes effort to remove fungus, will continue monitoring area

After nearly two years of intensive eradication efforts, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is declaring the Glen Oaks neighborhood in Glenville free of oak wilt, a devastating tree disease.

On Friday, Jan. 7, DEC officials said measures to halt the spread of oak wilt, including tree and stump removal from the affected neighborhood, have been successful, but monitoring will continue in the coming years. The DEC's efforts also included the planting of maple trees to replace some of the removed oaks.

We believe the disease has been successfully eradicated from this site and we are hopeful that further monitoring will confirm the eradication, said Gene Kelly, regional director for the DEC. "The last maple tree was planted in November, which concluded our operational efforts in the Glen Oaks neighborhood in Glenville."

Oak wilt is a tree disease caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum. It kills thousands of oak trees in eastern United States forests, woodlots and residential property every year. Once infected, the fungus grows in water-conducting vessels of host trees and causes the vessels to produce gummy plugs that prevent water flow. As water movement within the tree slows down, the leaves wilt before falling to the ground, and over time the tree will die.

Efforts to remove the trees began in April 2009, when 75 infected oak trees were cut down. Last spring, 45 tree stumps were ground up, and recently 14 maple trees were planted. Property owners impacted by the removal of trees were offered free stump removal and a free maple tree. The DEC also placed a quarantine on the removal of any un-chipped oak material from the area until further notice to prevent spreading the disease.

A disease takes root

"This [the oak wilt infestation] was something that could have potentially been very devastating to the town," said James MacFarland, director of operations for Glenville. "We lobbied as hard as we could from the town perspective that this was potentially huge, and DEC, to their credit, they spent the money that had to be spent."

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