Forest Service Closures for Port-Orford Cedar Protection

Release Date: Sep 24, 2010  

Contact(s): Julie Ranieri, Public Affairs (707) 441-3673

Eureka, CA – Due to recent rains, Six Rivers National Forest Supervisor Tyrone Kelley announces that some Forest roads on the Orleans Ranger District and Gasquet Ranger District/Smith River National Recreation Area (NRA) are being closed to motorized vehicles to reduce the risk of spreading Phytophthora lateralis (PL), the non-native pathogen that causes Port-Orford cedar (POC) root disease. In addition, the East Fork Campground is being closed.

These annual closures go into effect with the onset of the fall rainy season and remain in place until road surfaces dry out in late spring or early summer. This covers the highest risk period of the year when rain and wet conditions are conducive to spreading spore-laden mud from infested to non-infested areas, minimizing the possibility of human activity spreading the disease. The pathogen does not generally spread into areas where lack of access or physical barriers has prevented human activities from serving as carriers, so it is important that the public adhere to posted road closures.

According to Acting Vegetation Management Officer Ruben Escatell, "The primary method of long-distance spread of the disease is human activity. The spores live in water and wet soil and are easily transported by vehicles, including mountain bikes, passenger cars, trucks, off- highway vehicles, and heavy equipment. People camping, hiking and collecting mushrooms, evergreen boughs and other forest products can also carry spore-infested mud from one watershed to another on muddy hiking boots or shoes, so we ask visitors to make sure their boots/shoes are clean before walking behind the gates."

There are many infested areas within the Smith River NRA and in the Bluff Creek drainage within the Orleans Ranger District.  Once introduced into a non-infested area, the disease spreads downslope via water flow or by root contact. Port-Orford cedar trees infected with the diseasewill die; young trees within a few months of infection and mature trees within two to four years. There is no cure at this time, but in 2010, the first operational planting of disease-resistant POC in northern California was accomplished as part of post-fire reforestation for the Siskiyou Complex Fire.

For information about the status of these seasonal POC road closures, please contact the local Forest Service office. For more information about POC root disease, contact Ruben Escatell at 707-441-3553, Mike McCain at 707-457-3853, Todd Salberg at 530-627-3337, or Randi Paris at 530-629-4289.