We had some great results last year and participation continued to be good, but we need to work hard to keep a solid involvement of our communities. The USFS has just released the 2019 tree mortality data, and in 2019 alone, a million tanoaks were dead because of SOD. SOD is moving to new Counties outside of the current area of infestation, and even in our Bay Area neighborhoods, SOD of 2019 is not the same SOD of 10 years ago: different distribution, new local outbreaks, and new hosts are emerging, as the disease becomes more and more established in its new home. Two new dangerous SOD strains are at the doors of our forests, and – believe it or not- the SOD Blitzes are the only hope for their early detection. If these new strains arrived and spread in our forests, they could deliver a fatal blow to our forests: by collecting symptomatic plant material in your neighborhood, volunteers will make the most significant contribution possible to intercept these strains. Starting in 2019, we are asking participants in the SOD blitzes to quantify their effort to stop SOD: this information will be essential to leverage assistance money from the State. We also have enhanced the benefits for tree care professionals who participate in the blitzes: besides offering free bay and tanoak tests for their clients, we now offer them free enrollment in a satellite program called Oakstep, that allows them to test oaks for infection by SOD. Let’s try to increase participation by tree care specialists: it could be enormously beneficial to everybody.

Set aside May 15 and May 16 for the SLO County SOD Blitz. Details in the next issue of Obispoensis.