How Ferguson Township is reducing the risk
It is now illegal to trim oak trees in Ferguson Township
between April 1 and October 31 without a free permit. The Township put this limitation into place
to reduce the risk and the spread of oak wilt disease, which could decimate oak
trees in your neighborhood unless it is controlled. Oak trees pruned between April 1 and October
31 are more likely to become infected with oak wilt and die. Infected trees can then spread the disease to
other trees around them. Two incidents
of oak wilt-infected trees occurred in 2016 on Cherry Ridge Road in Park Forest
Village. The infected trees were removed
and oak trees within a 200-foot radius of the dead trees were treated with
Causes, symptoms and prevention of oak wilt disease
Oak wilt is a fungal disease transmitted by sap and
bark-feeding beetles. These beetles are
especially attracted to trees with open cuts, or wounds, from which sap
bleeds. Fungal spores on or in the
beetles are deposited in the sap while the beetles feed. The fungus grows out of the sap and into the
tree, where it quickly spreads throughout the tree and into the roots. Symptoms of fungal infection generally
consist of leaf discoloration (browning), leaf wilt, and the brown leaves falling
off altogether. Infected trees can then
spread the oak wilt fungus to neighboring trees through connections between
tree roots. Prevention is essential
because there is no permanent cure; once infected, a tree will die.
Preventing oak wilt disease
Fortunately, there are very effective ways to minimize the
chances of your oak trees getting oak wilt:
• Never prune oak trees from April 1 through October 31 —
when beetles are active. • Never allow
individuals who work on your trees to climb them using boots with spikes or
spurs that inflict sap-bleeding wounds in the tree.
Ferguson Township Ordinances and Resolutions addressing oak
Ordinance 1023 stipulates fines for anyone (resident,
contractor, etc.) pruning oak trees without
a permit during April 1 through October 31 or climbing oak trees with
boot spurs or spikes at any time of the year except for the purpose of removing
the entire tree.
Sometimes there is no way to prevent oak trees from being
wounded, particularly when storms break off live branches. These naturally occurring wounds could attract
sap beetles and result in an oak wilt fungal infection. Therefore, Resolution 2016-32 includes
helping private property owners shoulder the cost of abating an oak wilt infection
on their property.
Abatement includes removal of the infected tree, proper
disposal (chipped then burned or
composted) of the wood, treatment of all oak trees within a 100- to
150-foot radius of the infected tree, and possibly trenching around the
infected tree to break root grafts through which the fungus can spread. Wood from an infected tree should never be
moved to unaffected areas, even for
firewood, so as to prevent beetles in the wood from dispersing the
fungus into a new patch of trees.
Residents with oak trees on their properties are advised to
be aware of the signs of oak wilt
described above, especially leaves at the top of a tree turning brown
and falling off altogether.
Please report any tree related concerns to any member of the
Township Tree Commission or to Ferguson
Township Arborist Lance King.