Glen Oaks cleared of oak wilt

Terry Phillips, of Summerset Lane, said he first noticed there was something wrong with the trees in his neighbor's yard, and soon he noticed the same thing happening with his trees.

"My next door neighbor had some trees die, and they just died all of a sudden," said Phillips.

He contacted an arborist, who told him he thought the trees were suffering from oak wilt so Phillips called the Cornell Cooperative Extension, which at first was skeptical since there hadn't been any confirmed cases of oak wilt.

Phillips' friend Frank Strauss, who lives nearby, also had several trees die. Strauss brought a sample to Cornell Cooperative Extension, but the initial results were inconclusive. To get a better sample, Phillips brought in a fresh branch and the results came back positive for oak wilt.

At that point, Cornell Cooperative Extension officials contacted the DEC.

Keeping oak wilt in check

The Glenville trees are the only confirmed instances of oak wilt in New York, but DEC officials are not clear how the disease entered the town.

"We don't know for sure. Someone could have possibly brought in some firewood from another part of the country, but that is just speculation right now," said Rick Georgeson, spokesman for the DEC. "At this point, it does not have appear to have spread. We are going to be out there for the next few years, keeping our eyes open to make sure it hasn't spread."

Moving firewood more than 50 miles is prohibited by the DEC, unless the wood meets the state's heat treatment standards through kiln drying, which is meant to kill harmful pests.

Scientists also don't know where the disease originated from nationwide, but it could have entered the country from a foreign plant or evolved from a related endemic fungus. Forest pathologists in Wisconsin first identified oak wilt in 1944. Georgeson said DEC officials periodically take surveys throughout the state to look for any diseases of concern on wild lands.

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