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Forestry Officials Ramp Up Fight Against Invasive Beetles

Forestry Officials Ramp Up Fight Against Invasive Beetles

GUEST:

Matt Dias, acting executive officer, California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection

Transcript

State forestry officials are leading a tour Wednesday across San Diego County, observing parks and campgrounds devastated by invasive beetles. One species, the goldspotted oak borer, has infested more than 100,000 acres across the county.

State forestry officials are leading a tour Wednesday across San Diego County, observing parks and campgrounds devastated by invasive beetles. One species, the goldspotted oak borer, has infested more than 100,000 acres across the county.

That species originated from Arizona and was brought to Southern California by infected firewood, according to Matt Dias, acting executive officer for the California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Infected and healthy wood are indistinguishable to the untrained eye, Dias said, so he cautions campers to buy firewood locally to help curb the beetles’ spread. In February, the forestry board said Los Padres National Forest, which stretches from Ventura to Monterey Counties, is considered at risk.

Trees can be especially vulnerable to beetle infestations during drought conditions, Dias said.

Photo credit: Center For Invasive Species Research

The goldspotted oak borer, pictured, was found in San Diego County in the early 2000s. But it wasn't until recently that officials discovered that the beetle, combined with the drought, has killed tens of thousands of oak trees.

“Trees rely upon water to produce sap, which allows them to push out beetles that are infecting them,” he said. “But when water resources become limited, the trees can no longer produce the sap necessary to push the beetles out and therefore the beetle populations explode and that’s what has happened over the course of the last four or five years.”

While the goldspotted oak borer is the most prevalent invasive beetle in San Diego now, other species might not be far behind. The Kuroshio shot hole borer has devastated the Tijuana River Valley, according to Dias.

“If you take a trip to the regional park in the Tijuana River Valley, you will notice that nearly every single willow tree along the Tijuana River has died over the course of about a year and a half’s period,” Dias said. “That’s due directly to the Kuroshio shot hole borer.”

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