Task Force Convened to Address Spread of Sudden Oak Death in Southern Oregon

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and Oregon State Representative David Brock Smith convened an array of stakeholders last week in the first task force meeting aimed at addressing the spread of Sudden Oak Death.

Sudden Oak Death is a disease that poses severe economic and environmental threats to Curry, Coos and Josephine counties here in southwest Oregon.

The devastating disease is caused by a non-native pathogen that has killed hundreds of thousands of tanoak trees in Curry County. It was first detected there in 2001 and about one-third of that county has since been affected.

In Oregon, Sudden Oak Death only occurs in the forests of Curry County, where a containment program is in place to slow the spread. If further measures are not taken, it will spread north to Coos County and east to Josephine County in coming years.

In California, the disease has killed millions of oaks and tanoaks in the coastal region from Monterey to Humboldt counties. Additionally, a European virus known as EU1 that affects evergreen trees was recently detected in Oregon.

The task force will work to develop a collaboration-based action plan to contain the Sudden Oak Death disease and eradicate the EU1 virus using the best available science.