ERCA joins oak wilt fight as deadly tree fungus threatens to spread from Michigan
Michigan State Parks have lost more than 500,000 trees to the disease
The Essex Region Conservation Authority is joining the battle to protect local oak trees from a deadly fungus that has killed dozens in Michigan.
Oak wilt has spread throughout the eastern U.S. since 2009, and Michigan State Parks alone have lost more than 500,000 trees, according to ERCA.
"If Oak Wilt did become established here, all of our natural areas would be at risk of being negatively impacted," Rob Davies, ERCA's Forester, stated in a press release. "Many of these natural areas contain endangered habitats such as Pin and Black Oak Savanna, unique to all of Canada."
Oak wilt popped up on Belle Isle in 2016, killing more than 100 trees there. The island is only 600 metres away from the shores of Windsor and spores can spread by beetles attracted to the fungus' smell.
ERCA said it plans to partner with the City of Windsor, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and other partners to increase monitoring and awareness of the potentially devastating disease.
The conservation authority said it will reach out to engage partners, landowners and others to promote best practices throughout the region.
"Actions that can help protect our precious Oak trees include not pruning Oak species from April to August to prevent contact with picnic beetles, which spread the disease," said Davies. "Not allowing movement of firewood is another key action."
How to protect your oak trees:
Windsor's manager of forestry and natural areas, Paul Giroux, offered tips on how to protect trees in your own yard or neighbourhood.
- Avoid pruning oak trees in the growing season, as it increases the likelihood a picnic beetle carrying the fungal spores will be attracted to them. If a tree does need to be pruned, treat the cut area with a latex paint to mask the scent of the tree from the beetles.
- Do not move firewood from one area to another. Firewood can harbour disease and fungi.
- Be on the lookout for unusual changes. Oak trees should have their leaves in July, and if leaves are on the ground in July that's a very common sign of Oak wilt.