Personal-scale Preventative Measures

Similar to coughing into a tissue or your upper sleeve during flu season, individuals can take preventative measures to avoid facilitating the spread of forest pathogens.  Here are some ways to consider (hooray!)…


Obtain firewood locally!  When you are camping, don’t bring your own firewood. Bringing firewood from a location other than your campsite can transfer a myriad of organisms including pathogenic fungi that could be potentially harmful to an ecosystem.  Instead, get your firewood from a local convenient store or from the campground.

Clean your treads!  At the end of your forest excursion, cleaning out the treads of your boots, shoes, bike tires, doggie booties, etc. etc. is a good practice.  The dirt (especially mud!) clinging to these items carries spores and potentially infected debris, so before you go hiking through the next natural area, make sure to clean them kicks!

…And camping equipment!  The same idea applies to camping equipment.

Familiarize yourself with regional flora!  Being able to recognize native species will make it easier to spot intruders.  Early detection of invasive plant species can make their removal more effective, and even avoid an outbreak or epidemic.  If you see invasive plants in a public place, inform the organization that manages them, such as the department of transportation, the county weed board, or a park ranger.

Keep tree bark intact!    Next time such activities as hatchet or knife throwing, treehouse construction, initials carving(see below), mowing over exposed roots, etc. are on the horizon, keep this in mind: Different pathogens have varying strategies of infecting their hosts, and slipping into wounds or gashes of an otherwise healthy tree is one of the highly successful methods.  Wounds to a trees outer protective layers is an open window for spores to invite themselves right on in.  Some of the more detrimental pathogens, like Heterobasidion annosum, use this tactic.

As romantic as it may seem, please don’t carve your name into trees. Removing the bark of a tree is removing its first line of defense; it (literally) opens the tree up to pathogens that now have an easier time getting in, establishing and ultimately killing the tree.

These pictures were taken at Mission Creek Park in NE Olympia.



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