The city of Austin, Texas contains many Live Oaks and variations of Red Oaks. However, in recent years, the city’s oaks have been heavily affected by oak wilt, a fungus-oriented disease, which causes the water-conducting vessels of the tree to become clogged and prevents all parts of the stem beyond the blockage from receiving much needed water for sustainability. Without the appropriate nutrients, the demise of the tree is inevitable. Unfortunately, oak wilt is also quite contagious. In an effort to help contain the continued spread of the disease, the city of Austin has developed an official policy regarding the prevention of trees affected by oak wilt.
Prevention begins with knowledge. Therefore, each city employee or contractor who works on any project in which the potential spread of oak wilt may exist receives and is required to read and understand the city’s official policy on the disease. Such employees and contractors may include project managers and equipment operators. The responsibility to provide a written copy of the city’s policy on oak wilt extends to individual city departments as well. If the possibility for the spread of the disease exists to any degree, then city departments are required to provide workers with the written policy before work commences.
Prevention policy also indicates that employees should avoid trimming or pruning oaks as much as possible from March 1st through June 1st. Austin tree trimming should only be completed during those times in which the city has deemed it safest to do so, which typically includes when the insect population responsible for transferring the fungus from tree to tree is most dormant or when the fungal spore production is minimal.
The city of Austin has also determined that any trimming or pruning wounds to oaks shall be treated immediately to prevent the spread of oak wilt. The use of a non-phytotoxic (not toxic to plants) wound dressing shall be used on injured oaks, including injuries to stumps and roots, both above ground and underground. Contact an Austin tree removal professional with your concerns if you suspect that the stump or roots of a tree on your personal property may be affected by oak wilt.
A final prevention policy requires the disinfecting of equipment used for pruning, sawing, or other required tools. This policy also speaks to the frequency with which disinfecting should occur and includes before work commences, work performed between individual trees, and before leaving a work site after work is completed. According to the city policy, acceptable forms of disinfectant are aerosol disinfectant or 10 percent bleach-water solution. Although current research does not support that doing so will prevent the transference of the disease, disinfecting of all equipment is a policy requirement of the city of Austin.
The city of Austin has established these preventative policies so that the substantial oak population within the city, whether on public or personal property, can thrive. The need for such policies shows not only the contagiousness and the extent of the widespread effects of oak wilt, but also the city’s resolve to bring the disease under control and, with time and effort, prevent it altogether. Oaks add value to the city of Austin, and the city values the oaks in return. If you live in Austin, are a homeowner with oaks growing on your property, and desire to be proactive with regard to the health and viability of your oak trees, just as the city has, contact and seek the expertise of an Austin tree care professional, who can assist you in this endeavor.
About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree service in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and oak wilt treatment. For more information on Austin tree service, please visit https://www.centraltexastreecare.com.