Editor’s note: The reporter in this article had $49,000 of tree-removal costs during the 2003 bark beetle infestation. Fortunately, Southern California Edison paid for all but $10,000 of the removal costs, since the very large pines threatened power lines. The Goldspotted oak borer, recently identified in Idyllwild, could cause similar if not greater tree loss and property damage for Hill homeowners.

A meeting important to Hill land and homeowners, one that could impact their land and home values, takes place from 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Idyllwild Town Hall.

Forest Service scientists and CAL FIRE incident leaders in this investigation will discuss the recent discovery of one Idyllwild tree evidencing infestation by the Goldspotted oak borer, and what options are available to the community at this point.

Speakers include Gregg Bratcher, CAL FIRE Forest Battalion Chief, Tom Coleman, U.S. Forest Service entomologist and lead Gold spotted oak borer scientist, Tom Scott, UCR conservation biologist, Kevin Turner, UCR Goldspotted Oak Borer Program Coordinator and Edwina Scott, Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council executive director.

It is important for part-time homeowners from San Diego County to attend since that county is the present site of the greatest tree loss caused by this invasive beetle. Firewood imported from San Diego County is the likely cause of the Idyllwild infestation. Scientists involved with the investigation of the Idyllwild incident identified firewood brought from San Diego County as having evidence of oak borer infestation.

In San Diego County alone, this insect has already killed 90,000 oaks. Once it is ensconced in an area, there are no current treatment options available to stop its further spread.

To prepare for the meeting, there is web site information to use as a primer. That information is found at www.gsob.org, and includes how to identify infested trees, how citizens can report that infestation as well as diagnostic questions that will help scientists better understand how long the infestation has been in a particular area and where it may have come from. Also included is a section on “Best Management Practices” for preventing the spread of Goldspotted oak borer through the movement of logs and firewood.

In a section called “Early Warning System,” University of California scientists are asking woodland owners to help monitor the condition of their oaks and immediately report signs of declining health, leaf loss in tree crowns and other signs of impending oak mortality.

Experts explain oak borer concerns and local action
What: The presence of the Goldspotted oak borer in Idyllwild: An opportunity to learn what we can do the stop the spread of this invasive property damaging pest.

When: Saturday, Jan. 19, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Idyllwild Town Hall, 25925 Cedar Street

Speakers will include:

  • Gregg Bratcher, CAL FIRE Forest Battalion Chief
  • Tom Coleman, entomologist, U.S. Forest Service
  • Edwina Scott, Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council
  • Tom Scott, a conservation biologist at the University of California, Riverside
  • Kevin Turner, Goldspotted Oak Borer Program Coordinator, UC Cooperative Extension