Schenectady County

Lethal tree disease may be spreading in Schenectady County

The state is working to contain a lethal tree disease first found in the Glen Oaks neighborhood but

The state is working to contain a lethal tree disease first found in the Glen Oaks neighborhood but which could be spreading to other parts of the county, officials said Friday.

State Department of Environmental Conservation representatives will report their findings and answer questions at an informational meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Glenville Senior Center, 32 Worden Road.

Plant pathologists in September identified the oak wilt disease in more than dozen trees within a three-block radius of the neighborhood, a triangle of streets bordered by Spring and Vley roads. Oak wilt is a quick-spreading, quick-killing fungus that attacks certain species of trees – white and red oaks are most susceptible.

DEC scientists have since expanded their investigation to oaks in other parts of Glenville, said Region 4 DEC spokesman Rick Georgeson.

“We are still surveying, and there could be more infected trees,” he said. “We need to complete the survey first.”

The DEC will survey trees beginning the week of Oct. 20. As part of the survey, the state is asking residents not to remove any parts of oak trees – such as clippings or firewood – from the neighborhood until further notice.

Georgeson said the disease should not spread tree to tree until spring. However, the state plans to cut down infected trees over the winter and is digging narrow trenches around them to disrupt their root systems, he said.

“There will be ongoing monitoring from DEC in the coming months and years to ensure the eradication measures have been successful,” Georgeson said.

The DEC will pay the cost to remove the trees, some of which are massive and old, but is seeking help from other municipalities in the county to defray costs.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schenectady Director Chris Logue, who helped first identify the outbreak, said this is the first time the state has seen an outbreak of oak wilt.

“It is one of intriguing things about it. It has been observed several hundred miles away in Pennsylvania, in Minnesota and Texas,” he said. “I have never seen something like this before.”

Georgeson said state officials are unsure how oak wilt entered the state, but that the U.S. Forest Service is investigating.

Logue said oak wilt spreads through root grass and by a beetle, which carries the fungus spores tree to tree.

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