It’s spring. Flowers are blooming and the leaves of trees are starting to form and uncurl. It’s time for a community meeting to hear about the Goldspotted oak borer.
The Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council is holding just such a meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 18, at the Idyllwild Nature Center.
This is the time of year when the oak leaves begin to appear, which means it’s the best time to examine our oaks to identify suspicious trees that may be harboring the GSOB and dying from this occupant.
“It’s time to see if the leaves are normal or if leaves are still brittle and brown,” said Edwina Scott, MCFSC executive director. “We’ll be right at the beginning of flight season.”
Riverside County Fire Department Forester Gregg Bratcher will be at the meeting to discuss the current status of local tree removal. Also, his predecessor. Kevin Turner, currently with the University of California, Riverside, Cooperative Extension program, will discuss the status of current research on GSOB habitat.
As of late March, 62 local oaks have been confirmed with GSOB infections, according to Bratcher. Although the expansion has slowed, which is good compared to the infestation and attack in San Diego County, the GSOB presence is “getting worse,” according to Scott.
The county has been concerned about the presence of the GSOB on the Hill since its identification in 2012. Third District Supervisor Chuck Washington has continued the policy of his predecessor, Jeff Stone, requesting his colleagues to renew a declaration of emergency because of the bark beetle and GSOB infestations.
“Based on the past seasons, we will look for unusual leaf characteristics, such as size or lack of leaves,” Bratcher said.
Also, Scott hopes to recruit more volunteers for oak tree inspections. Since the GSOB’s first identification on the Hill, the MCFSC has trained individuals to identify suspicious trees, which experts such as Turner and Dr. Tom Scott, also of UCR, examine for GSOB presence.
“Even if they are only willing to examine their trees and their neighborhood, we need the help,” Scott said. “I’m hoping to see the community ready to roll up its sleeves.”