Bay trees being removed to save oak trees

Crew to fell roughly 250 bay trees in Santa Clara, San Mateo counties

A crew started removing roughly 250 bay trees in several open space lands in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties Monday, July 11, to stop the spread of a plant pathogen that kills oak tree species.

The pathogen, Phytophthora Ramorum, causes certain species of oak trees to die from sudden oak death. In an effort to understand and eradicate the disease, the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District has enlisted the help of a work crew with the California Conservation Corps to remove nearly 250 bay trees within 15 feet of 49 healthy oak trees.

According to the open space district, research has shown that removing bay trees within 15 feet of oak trees significantly lowers their chances of becoming infected and dying from sudden oak death. Bay trees are a host species that can transmit the pathogen.

The tree removal started July 11 and will continue through July 28. The crew will work this week at Monte Bello and Los Trancos open space preserves in Santa Clara County and Long Ridge Open Space Preserve in San Mateo County. Next week, the crew will tackle the trees at the Long Ridge and Russian Ridge preserves in San Mateo County. The week of July 25, they will work at Saratoga Gap in Santa Clara County and Skyline Ridge in San Mateo County.

The project, which was funded by a Proposition 84 grant, is meant to help prevent the buildup of dead trees and protect open space lands.

— Bay City News Service


Like this comment
Posted by Outraged
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jul 13, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I am outraged by this because ... well I'm not sure why but I'm sure some of the frequent posters to these forums can help me figure it out.

Like this comment
Posted by Tree Nut
a resident of Gemello
on Jul 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Since both tree species are native, you might be right to be outraged. I am saddened by this action, but I do think it is a necessity.
The California Bay Laurel (Umbellularia californica, aka Oregon Myrtle) is prolific, not endangered, and is a vector for this disease that is killing our oaks. Once the disease has died down, or the oaks have evolved a resistent strain, the bays will grow back. They grow much faster than the oaks. +100 year old oaks are dying, and they are really hard to replace. And it is possible that the disease could spread to the redwoods.
I guess that the outrage should be at whatever or whoever brought this disease to our shores in some imported tree or plant.

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