Through a Forestry Assistance Program grant from the DNR Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, the well used hiking trails at Pelizzri Natural Area at the base of the Old Mission Peninsula will be implementing treatments to control the spread of oak wilt.
The disease was identified in the summer of 2017 and the township was awarded a cost-share grant to cover 85% of the cost to treat the outbreak. Starting around the end of October, the park will be closed to the public while a cable skidding logging crew will be on site harvesting around 100 red oak trees that are more than likely root grafted to the diseased trees. Oak wilt fungus readily moves from diseased to healthy trees through root grafts up to the tree height distance away. A cable skidding crew will be able to access and remove the affected trees with the least amount of impact on the highly terrain. While the logging crew is on site, mature aspen trees that are starting to deteriorate and become hazardous to the public, will also be harvested and sent to a sawmill. All trees will be utilized and proceeds from the sale will go back into improvements at the park. Seeding to nature grasses/wildflowers, and planting of native shrubs and trees.
Once the trees are cut, an herbicide will be applied to the cut stumps that will kill oak root systems so that the oak wilt fungus is not be able to spread to healthy trees on the park and to the neighboring properties. Red oak is a dominate tree in the landscape throughout the Old Mission Peninsula. Ten trees that died from oak wilt this summer and, will be producing the fungal spore pads that aid in the overland spread of the fungus, will be milled, chipped or covered on site. Although all treatments being implemented on site represent approved oak wilt control practices.
The public is asked to use another area park while the logging is being done. Any questions can be directed to Kama Ross, District Forester for Leelanau, Benzie and Grand Traverse Conservation Districts, as the local grant administrator; 231-256-9783 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is an opportunity to aggressively help control the spread of oak wilt, a 100% fatal non-native disease to red oaks with best management practices. This highly visible site will help education landowners as to the preventative measures crucial to prevent the overland spread (no injuring of red oaks during the growing season) and how to effectively control outbreaks when they do occur.
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