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DEC: Public meeting Monday on oak wilt findings

These leaves show

These leaves show "marginal scorch," the effect of oak wilt, which can cause trees to defoliate earlier than normal. Marginal scorch can appear as thick bands of yellow or brown discoloration. Credit: Cornell University / George Hudler

A public meeting to discuss findings on a devastating tree fungus in Central Islip is scheduled for Monday, a state agency said.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation will share results of a study and plans designed to suppress an oak wilt outbreak in a 7 p.m. meeting Monday at the Central Islip Public Library on Hawthorne Avenue, the agency said.

In August, the agency and the state Department of Agriculture and Markets said that oak wilt was detected in Central Islip; the disease was identified by Cornell University’s Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic after samples from a symptomatic oak tree were submitted by a tree care professional, the agencies said.

Oak wilt is a serious threat in the eastern United States, killing thousands of oaks each year, according to the agencies. It is caused by a fungus, Ceratocystis fagacearum, which grows in the water-conducting vessels of host trees, causing the vessels to produce gummy plugs that prevent water transport. As water movement in the tree is slowed, the leaves wilt and drop off, and the infected tree eventually dies.

It marks the second time that oak wilt has been confirmed in the state. In 2008 samples from trees in Schenectady County tested positive.

The only known treatment is to remove the infected trees, as well as any surrounding host oak trees.

The DEC said it has established eradication protocols from the Schenectady County incident to control the Islip infestation.

In August, the agency created a protective zone that prohibits the removal of any living, dead, standing, cut or fallen oak trees — or any portion of them — from a quarantine area. Also, a 150-foot “red oak free zone” was established around the area where the infected trees were discovered. All red oaks in these zones will be removed and destroyed to protect the remaining oak trees in the area, the DEC said.

The protective zone boundary is bordered by the backyards of homes along Connetquot Avenue (west), Sportsmen Street (south), Deer Path Road (east) and Allwood Avenue (north).

The public is asked to report any occurrences where an oak tree suddenly loses its leaves to the Forest Health Information Line at 866-640-0652. More information is at


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