In the past two years, more than 500,000 Coast Live Oaks and Tanoaks in 15 counties along the California coast have succumbed to Sudden Oak Death, a pathogenic disease threatening the trees’ survival.
Local residents can help curb the spread of the disease and treat infected carriers by participating in the seventh annual Sudden Oak Death Blitz, scheduled 10 a.m. May 24 at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 W. Fremont Road. Volunteers should expect to spend 30-45 minutes in the classroom and additional time outdoors collecting samples.
Experts will teach volunteers how to detect infection in California Bay Laurel trees – one of the most common carriers of the Sudden Oak Death pathogen – and provide instruction on how to collect leaf samples for testing.
During the 2013 Sudden Oak Death Blitz, 25 volunteers surveyed 629 trees in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, gathering 144 leaf samples for testing. After undergoing microscopic testing and DNA analyses at UC Berkeley’s Matteo Garbelotto Laboratory, 10 samples showed positive signs of infection.
“Because it has been a dry year, the Blitz will focus on trying to identify the trees that remain actively infected with the pathogen even when it is dry,” said local Blitz organizer Sue Welch.
Participants are encouraged to download the SODMAP mobile app to their iPhones or Android phones prior to the event. With the locations of last year’s infected trees loaded into the SODMAP program, volunteers will be able to select sampling sites near infected trees.
After all samples are collected and tested, results will be published online Oct. 1.
For more information, visit sodblitz.org.