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DEC establishes oak wilt quarantine district in Middlesex

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced that an oak wilt quarantine district has been established for the town of Middlesex in Yates County.

The confirmation of two oak wilt infection centers last year led to the need for a town-wide quarantine district, which restricts the movement of oak wood and firewood of any species to prevent the disease from spreading.

Caused by the fungus Bretziella fagacearum, oak wilt can spread from one oak to another, even after the infected tree has died, so moving potentially infected wood contributes to the spread of the disease. Oak logs and branch debris are prohibited from leaving the quarantine district unless they are chipped to less than one inch in two dimensions.

Non-oak wood is also restricted unless it is in lengths of 29 inches or greater for identification purposes. In special circumstances, limited permits are available to move oak wood and firewood out of the quarantine district during the fall and winter months. Contact the local DEC Lands and Forests office for more information.

DEC-led oak wilt management activities are currently underway in Middlesex and are expected to be completed within the next month. DEC will conduct aerial and ground surveys in early summer to look for additional signs of the disease.

Oak wilt quarantine districts have previously been established for all of Suffolk County, the town of Glenville, and neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Canandaigua, and South Bristol.

The beetles that spread the disease are attracted to wounded oaks. DEC recommends homeowners complete any planned oak tree pruning by March 15, before the beetles are active. DEC also asks the public to report any oak trees that suddenly lose their leaves this summer during the months of July or August. Photos and details can be submitted to [email protected]. Visit DEC’s website for more information about oak wilt. For questions, call DEC’s Forest Health Information Line toll-free at 1-866-640-0652.