Oak Wilt

Oak Wilt

Oak Wilt Threatens Kronenwetter’s Urban Forest

Thousands of oaks in woodland and urban settings die every year from oak wilt, a fungal disease that is widespread in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. In fact, the discovery of several infestations of oak wilt throughout the community led to the development of the Urban Forestry Program in Kronenwetter. The disease is spread when roots of infected trees graft to the roots of healthy trees.  The disease can also be spread by insects.  Certain beetles are attracted to fungal mats that some diseased trees produce. When the beetles feed on the mats, fungal spores stick to their bodies. If the beetle moves to a freshly wounded oak tree, the disease-causing spores are introduced to that tree.Both the red oak and white oak groups can get the disease, but trees in the red oak group (black, northern red, northern pin and other with pointed leaves) are far more susceptible to the disease.

In 2013, the Village of Kronenwetter contracted with Land Management Solutions, LLC to conduct an oak wilt inventory as part of a grant through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Land Management Solutions started the process of taking a ground inventory of the Village and followed with an aerial survey. The assessment revealed numerous infestations of oak wilt within the Village with the most severe cases on the west side of Interstate 39. A copy of the consultant’s report is available here In all, 578 trees were identified as “actively dying” while 1236 trees were considered to have died as a result of the oak wilt disease. Please see the Village of Kronenwetter Oak Wilt Infection Map for locations of known infections.

Prevention is the best measure against controlling the spread of oak wilt.  In January 2014 the Village of Kronenwetter adopted an Oak Wilt Ordinance which outlines and regulates oak management practices in the community. Do not injure, prune, or cut oaks from April 15-August 15. It is during this time that oaks are most susceptible to the disease.  Oaks can still get infected during the rest of the summer months, but it’s less likely. If pruning oaks around your house, or clearing an oak lot for a house, it’s advisable to do so during the winter months.

The wood of a newly infected tree that is cut down, needs to be debarked, burned, buried, or covered with a tarp and the sides sealed for a year. This will prevent the beetles from feeding on any fungal mats that may form in the firewood.  Residents can drop off dead oak trees that were cut in the past year to the Village’s Yard Waste Site after August 15.  The Village will chip those trees during the winter to prevent the spread of infection.

If you see signs of oak wilt or oak trees being cut or damaged during the no cut period, you can call the Oak Wilt Hotline below.

Oak Wilt Hotline: 715-693-7336

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