Caltrans closed Highway 243 in front of Mountain Top Liquor on Thursday, April 11 from around 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. to remove a large Goldspotted oak borer-infested tree. Photo by Marshall Smith

Beginning around 9 a.m. Thursday, April 11, Caltrans crews closed Highway 243 in front of Mountain Top Liquor to take down a five-story tall Goldspotted oak borer-infested tree. After removing the first tree, crews moved on to a second infested tree near the Chevron station. Caltrans reopened Highway 243 at 12:42 p.m. according to Caltrans Highway Maintenance Supervisor Jody Mueller. Removal of the second tree did not necessitate keeping the highway closed. The operation wrapped around 2 p.m.

These two trees were the second and third in Idyllwild to be confirmed as infested with Goldspotted oak borer. Since then, other trees were confirmed as having the insect and either taken down or scheduled for removal, including one at Town Hall and one across from the American Legion Post 800 on Marion View Drive.

Larvae from a suspected infested tree in Pine Cove have been sent out for DNA analysis and results should be available in several weeks, according to Gregg Bratcher of CAL FIRE.

Confirmed Goldspotted oak borer-diseased trees are taken to the grinding station, sectioned (“canted”) and ground down to destroy any existing larvae, according to Kevin Turner, U.C. Riverside GSOB project coordinator. Contrary to some reports, infested trees are not debarked and used for firewood stored at the grinding station as part of official Idyllwild area removal procedures. Turner explained the economics of debarking trees make the process impractical. “If debarking trees were easy and cost-effective to accomplish, it would be occurring in San Diego County [locus of high Goldspotted oak borer infection and tree mortality], which it is not.”