DEALING WITH OAK WILT: A LAND OWNERS PERSPECTIVE.
Prepared and presented by Sue Tracy at the Spring BCA general meeting.
What is oak wilt? ...a highly destructive fungal disease, usually fatal to susceptible species of trees.
Which species are susceptible to oak wilt? ---"Red oaks" (Spanish oak, blackjack) are particularly susceptible; once infected, they almost invariably die. In addition, diseased red oaks play an essential role in the external spread of oak wilt. ---“Live oaks" are slightly more resistant: some 15% survive, to some degree, but because of their growth pattern in large groups and their wide-spreading, interconnected roots, live oaks are particularly vulnerable to oak wilt. ---"White oaks" (including chinkapin, post, bur, and Lacey oak) are much less susceptible, although not immune.
What happens to a susceptible tree infected with oak wilt? The fungus rapidly disables the tree's vascular system, preventing essential absorption of moisture and nutrients. Infected red oaks typically die within weeks of developing symptoms; live oaks may survive for some months.
How is oak wilt spread?
…externally, through spores carried by beetles; then …internally, along root connections with healthy trees.
…externally, through spores carried by beetles; then
…internally, along root connections with healthy trees.
The initial source of infection is fungal spores on mats that may form underneath the bark of a diseased red oak a few months before it dies. These sweet-smelling spore mats attract many insets, including the sap-feeding beetles believed to be the primary vector for disease transmission. Because these beetles also feed on the sap from fresh tree wounds, they can easily transfer… (see more)
Neighbors working together to protect and preserve the natural beauty and rural way of life in the Bandera Canyonlands.
The Bandera Canyonlands Alliance (BCA) exists to support landowners working together to share resources, knowledge and experiences for the benefit of the land, water, native plants & animals, and the rural way of life in the Bandera Canyonlands.
The BCA is organized and operated to support, protect and preserve the ecological systems that support the biodiversity, water resources, natural beauty and rural way of life in the Bandera Canyonlands for future generations. Specific activities of the Organization support the following:
- Conservation and enhancement of native plants and wildlife with a focus on maximizing native biodiversity.
- Protection and preservation of the abundance and quality of water resources.
- Promotion of "best practices" for Ashe juniper (aka mountain cedar) management.
- Enhancement and maintenance of landscape integrity.
- Education of members and the public on the benefits of good land stewardship in general and on conservation matters in the Bandera Canyonlands in particular.
Bandera Canyonlands Area
The Bandera Canyonlands consists of western Bandera and eastern Real counties. Lying within the Edwards Plateau Ecoregion, the Bandera Canyonlands is one of the most scenic and biologically rich spots in Texas. Flat, deep-soil valleys contrast sharply with the rugged limestone bluffs that rise dramatically above them. The varied elevations, aspects, soils, geology, and moisture conditions in the area create a great variety of habitat types and associated plant and animal communities. Three federally endangered species occur in the Bandera Canyonlands including the golden-cheeked warbler, black-capped vireo, and Tobusch fishhook cactus, as well as endemic species of fish, salamanders, invertebrates, and plants.
The Bandera Canyonlands are rich in water resources. There are numerous springs and groundwater seeps along the river banks and canyon walls that feed the areas drainages and creeks. These waters, in addition to rainfall, form the headwaters of two of the state's major river basins: the Medina River, which is part of the San Antonio river basin; and the Sabinal River, which is part of the Nueces river basin. The underlying aquifer that supports area springflows and many of the shallow wells in the Bandera Canyonlands is the Edwards-Trinity Plateau (Plateau) aquifer. This aquifer averages around 100 feet in the area and is recharged by the downward percolation of rainwater and runoff from the land surface, both locally and to the north and west in Kerr and Real County.
Bandera Canyonlands Area
Most BCA members manage their properties for the benefit of wildlife. Primary activities include brush management, prescribed fire, feral hog control and white-tailed deer management. Since September 2008, ten BCA members have been participating in a LIP-funded project, which includes the implementation of brush thinning to enhance Golden-cheeked Warbler habitat and prescribed fire to restore and enhance Black-capped Vireo habitat.
Several BCA members manage for the benefit of songbirds, with a focus on the two endangered birds noted above. These landowners have allowed EDF and its consultants to conduct yearly breeding bird surveys to monitor the diversity and abundance of resident and migratory species. In addition, at least six BCA landowners are operating cowbird traps each spring.
Chad Norris with TPWD has conducted spring studies on a number of BCA ranches. The BCA has a water management consultant (Tyson Broad) under contract for the purposes of (a) participating in local and regional water planning meetings on behalf of the BCA and (b) assembling water related information for the Bandera Canyonlands region.
Feral Hog Management:
Currently, 12 BCA members participate in a cooperative feral hog management program, cost-sharing with EDF the expense of a full-time hog trapper. The hog trapper is Jesse Paul McBeth of Utopia. Jesse Paul uses a variety of methods, including box traps and corral traps, as well as specially trained dogs. This program has run continuously since 2003.