More surveys will be conducted in the spring.

CANANDAIGUA — About 16 square miles of land area was checked last fall by helicopter.

Another 470 acres was inspected on foot.

All this after two trees on Ketchum Road tested positive for the lethal oak wilt, but nothing more was found, according to Mark Gooding, a regional forester with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

“It’s a very serious disease,” Gooding told members of the Canandaigua Town Board and public on Monday night. “We’re taking this very seriously.”

Here’s why.

There is no treatment. Once a tree is infected, it can die within a few weeks to three months. A tree found to be infected has to be cut down and the root system isolated to guard against its spread, Gooding said.

The symptoms of the fatal disease, which affects all varieties of oak trees although some more than others, are more noticeable in spring and summer, as the loss of leaves is dramatic, Gooding said.

Because the oak wilt was found here in the fall, more surveys will be done in the spring so a more definitive confirmation of its isolation will be known by the end of summer, Gooding said.

First detected in New York in 2008, the oak tree-killing fungus is spreading in the state, according to DEC officials.

Late in December, DEC officials announced the disease was detected in Brooklyn and several towns on Long Island.

There is no definitive answer on how the fungus arrived in Canandaigua but chances are it was brought in by firewood, Gooding said. The nitulid beetle, commonly known as the picnic beetle, are highly attracted to the fungus and can carry the spores to trees.

The two trees locally were cut down. A protective border is in place, which limits wood that can leave the property.

Thirty-two landowners are affected.

“We think it’s an isolated case,” Gooding said. “We hope that’s the case.”


To learn more

The state Department of Environmental Conservation will hold two informational sessions on oak wilt, the oak tree-killing fungus that was detected in the fall in Canandaigua.

The first is from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 4, in Cheshire. A workshop also is planned from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor.