Port Orford-Cedar Gate Closures Remain In Effect Due to Unseasonably Wet Conditions

Release Date: May 25, 2011  

Contact: Virginia Gibbons, (541) 618-2113

SOUTHWEST OR – Gates that have been closed on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest since October of 2010 will remain closed in an effort to prevent the spread of Port Orford-cedar (POC) root disease.

"This has been an unusually wet spring season. Wet weather conditions and the resulting condition of forest roads require that the gates remain closed to prevent the spread of the disease," said Forester Stephen Boyer.

The closing and opening of the gates is driven by weather and associated road conditions, not by specific calendar dates.

The closing of the gates was somewhat delayed in October 2010, particularly on the Gold Beach Ranger District, due to continued dry conditions on the southwest coast. Those conditions allowed for the gates to remain open into the fall for a longer period of time than is typical. Conversely, the sustained wet weather conditions this spring have prompted the gates to remain closed longer than in a typical season.

"We will continue to monitor road conditions and as soon as it dries out for a sustained period of time, we will provide public access," said Boyer.

On the Gold Beach Ranger District, the Snow Camp Road (Forest Road 1376), a popular back road between Brookings and Gold Beach, remains closed. In addition, Forest Roads 3318-310, 1703-110, 1703-150, 1703-190, 1703-spur, 1107-220 are also closed. On the Wild Rivers and Powers Ranger Districts, numerous POC gate closures also remain in effect.

POC root disease is caused by the fungal pathogen Phytophera lateralis (PL) that spreads through transportation of infected soil and surface water and root grafts. The closure of specific roads during the wet season protects healthy Port Orford cedar by limiting access to infected areas and subsequent transportation of pathogen spores to uninfected areas. Some of the POC gates are limiting access to uninfected areas as a preventative measure.

Large trees are more likely to be infected than small trees due to larger root areas, although all trees at the edges of infected streams and road side ditches will eventually succumb. The fungus produces spores that can persist in the soil for long periods of time. New infections generally begin when the soils is transferred from an infected population to a non-infected population via human or animal movement.

Soil on vehicle tires, especially logging trucks and other off-road vehicles, is considered the most pressing problem due to the volume of soil that can be carried and the traffic rate in and between the susceptible areas. Spread on boots and mountain bike tires likely contributes to more localized infections.

The Port Orford-cedar (also known as Lawson's Cypress) is in actuality a cypress that is native to the southwest portion of Oregon and the northwest portion of California. It grows at sea level up to about 5,000 ft elevations in the Klamath Mountains and valleys, frequently near streams. This cypress is a large evergreen coniferous tree, regularly reaching 200 ft tall, with feathery blue-green foliage. The bark is reddish-brown and fibrous to scaly in vertical strips.