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A New Strain Of Sudden Oak Death Prompts Eradication Efforts In Curry County

Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org

The US Forest Service is moving to cut down and burn a forested area just outside of Port Orford in Curry County due to an outbreak of Sudden Oak Death.

Sudden Oak Death is a plant disease that mainly affects tanoak trees. This outbreak is caused by a new strain of the disease called the North America 2 strain, or NA2. The NA2 strain is said to be more aggressive than previous forms of Sudden Oak Death and the current outbreak in Curry county is the first time it’s been seen in the wild in Oregon.

“We’re working right now with landowners on going in and testing trees to delimit the extent of this infestation” says Sarah Navarro, a forest pathologist with Forest Service. “Then we will be cutting and piling and then burning infected trees within a certain vicinity to try and make sure we have captured the disease that is out there.”

At least 388 acres of forest are affected by the NA2 strain and will be treated and burned. This outbreak is 21 miles from another region of Curry county that is currently under quarantine for the NA1 strain of Sudden Oak Death. Because the two areas are infected by different strains of the disease, the Forest Service says the outbreaks are unrelated. Experts suspect that the NA2 strain came from a nursery transplant.

The Forest Service says that they missed this outbreak, which they believe has been around for at least the last four years.

“Being so far north of the quarantine zone and so close to a city, this area was outside the zone we intensively survey for sudden oak death each year,” said Navarro. “We are increasing our aerial and ground surveys in northern Curry County to make sure we find any other infestations that might be out there.”

Sophia Prince is a reporter and producer for JPR News. She began as JPR’s 2021 summer intern through the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in journalism and international studies.