At the March Fire Safe meeting, Dr. Matteo Garbelotto of UC Berkeley presented the lates information about SOD (Sudden Oak Death) and its relationship to fire ecology (please see meeting notes from March 2020 for a recap). Dr. Garbelotto also invited anyone interested to participate in the annual SOD Blitz which is run by his research program at UC Berkeley.
In light of the recent COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, Dr. Garbelotto provided us an update that the SOD Blitzes for 20202 will still be running, using new and approved guidelines.
Copied below is his message with more details:
March 31st, 2020
Concerned Californians, nature-lovers and environmentalists,
You are receiving this email because in the past you have attended one of the many programs offered by the U.C. Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Laboratory (www.matteolab.org<http://www.matteolab.org>). I know many of you have participated in at least one annual SOD Blitz. SOD Blitzes have grown to become the gold standard in the field of Citizen Science programs aimed at protecting forest health, and you –the volunteers- are the main reason for this success. SOD Blitzes allow us to map the distribution of Sudden Oak Death (SOD) throughout the State each year. Mapping SOD in 2020 may be critical for various reasons: 1)- Areas with recent SOD mortality are much more prone to support extremely hot wildfires; 2)- SOD infected oaks fail, often when still green, with obvious consequences for property and people; 3)- Knowing where SOD is, allows local residents to choose to protect their oaks using science-proven disease management options; 4)- Two new strains of the diseases are looming at the edge of California forests and the SOD Blitzes are the only way to intercept them before they spread. These new strains could be a game changer in the negative sense of the expression.
In spite of the ongoing health scare and of the statewide “Shelter in Place” ordinance, we have been able to redesign the 2020 SOD Blitzes to make them 100% safe and legal, an effective activity that allows you to exercise, and –of course- a powerful Citizen Science program that will help all of us protecting our forests. The program has received full approval by U.C. Berkeley and it will go on as long as we all follow the simple guidelines posted at www.sodblitz.org<http://www.sodblitz.org>. All of the training and free registration will be done online, you will pick up fully sterile collection and survey materials at a local SOD Blitz Station, conveniently located near a parking lot, and you will return your samples at the same SOD Blitz station or by mail, depending on where you are. All the precise information is available at www.sodblitz.org<http://www.sodblitz.org>. Remember, by participating in your local SOD Blitz, you will get a chance to exercise in nature while helping protecting our forests through a 100% safe activity.
Social distancing and clean “housekeeping” rules are strongly enforced, so when picking up or returning materials and stay at least 6 feet away from other volunteers. You will be allowed to survey and sample trees in private properties with the owners’ consent, along roads (be mindful of approaching vehicles), and in parks that may still be open to the public. Again, respect social distancing rules in the field as well. Do participate, because Sudden Oak Death is not stopping and we need to be proactive about it in order to succeed in our efforts to preserve our beloved oaks for future generations. In 2019 alone, more than one million trees were killed by SOD. Go to www.sodblitz.org<http://www.sodblitz.org> to familiarize yourselves with the easy-to-follow new SOD Blitz guidelines, and to find out the time slot that has been assigned to your neighborhood to perform the survey. This is an activity you can do with the entire family or with one friend: do not miss out the opportunity to be part of the solution.
Matteo Garbelotto Ph.D.