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Sudden oak death blitz set Saturday

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There will be a sudden oak death blitz on Saturday, April 19, to help volunteers identify whether the disease is evident in bay laurel trees.

The blitz will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Sonoma Community Center, 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma.

Participants will attend the one-hour training meeting on Saturday, April 19, and learn everything they need to know to participate.

After the meeting, they’ll collect symptomatic leaves on their own, Saturday and Sunday and drop-off the leaves back at the meeting site by 5 p.m. Sunday.

The UC Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Lab will test the leaves for Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes SOD.

A map of the results will be available online.

This event is free. Funding for this project is provided by the USDA Forest Service.

The blitz helps the community identify locations where SOD infection is active. Some management options are available including selective bay removal and chemical preventative treatments, and can be effective when implemented before oaks and tanoaks are infected. Therefore, timely detection of the disease on bay laurel leaves is crucial.

Sudden oak death is a serious exotic disease that is killing tanoak and several oak species in California. Currently it is found in 15 California counties from Monterey to Humboldt. P. ramorum spreads most often on infected leaves of California bay laurel, a common native tree in Sonoma County. Symptomatic bay leaves generally precede oak and tanoak infections and are often the first sign that the pathogen is in a location. Some bay trees may harbor the pathogen even through drought. Participants have the opportunity to find those trees.

Laboratory results can be viewed on Google Earth. There will be follow-up presentation in the fall to explain the results.

To sign up, go to ucanr.edu/2014blitz.

For more information, contact Lisa Bell at lkbell@ucanr.edu, call 565-2050, cesonoma.ucanr.edu/SuddenOakDeath or go to suddenoakdeath.org.