The next forestry nightmare is lurking in Michigan’s woods right now. Oak wilt, a fungal disease transmitted by sap beetles, is lethal to all species of oaks. A 200 year-old oak tree can die in a matter of months from oak wilt. Oak wilt has been identified in about one-third of Michigan's counties. It is found in all Minnesota and Wisconsin counties where oak wilt has already killed tens of thousands of oaks. Once the fungus infects an oak tree, it can transfer to other adjacent oaks through root connections.
Oak wilt can be easily prevented by avoiding the cutting or pruning of oaks from April through July. Emergency pruning must be immediately sealed. Officials in Highland Township and in our cities, counties and our state Legislature should protect our magnificent oak trees and forests with proven oak wilt ordinances. Without a timely oak wilt ordinance, our oak forests can go the way of the chestnut, elm, and ash, all extinct.
This is a forest nightmare we can prevent, if we wake up.
Mark Muhich, conservation chairman
Central Michigan Group Sierra Club, Jackson