Hero Image

UC Delivers: Sudden Oak Death Outreach Survey

The Issue

Sudden Oak Death (SOD) is a plant disease caused by Phytophthora ramorum, which was likely introduced to California through the shipment of infected nursery plants. The disease first appeared in the mid-1990s in coastal California, and caused extensive tree die-offs in 1999 and 2000. An estimated 1 million tanoak and oak trees in California have died from SOD, with another 1 million currently infected in an area stretching from Monterey to Humboldt counties. In addition to the oaks, another 100 plant species and varieties are susceptible to the pathogen. Most of these species suffer only minor damage, but they can be important to the spread of the disease. Since its discovery, SOD has generated a need for timely distribution of accurate information. UCCE has been involved with outreach efforts from the start, including cooperating with the California Oak Mortality Task Force (COMTF). However, neither group formally evaluated the effectiveness of their outreach tools and materials. As SOD continues to be an important natural resource issue in California, these efforts needed to be assessed in order to better direct resources toward areas and groups of highest priority.

What Has ANR Done?

In April 2005, UCCE staff in Marin County and COMTF implemented a statewide online survey to assess the effectiveness of previous SOD education and to guide future outreach efforts in California. The primary audience for SOD education in California is forestry, landscape, and tree professional companies and individuals, resource agencies, local and state government, educational institutions, and regulatory departments. The survey generated a total of 302 responses from a variety of geographic regions and professional affiliations.

The Payoff

Increased Knowledge of P. ramorum

A majority of respondents (66 percent) wanted more outreach efforts, particularly site-specific outreach, in their areas. In response, COMTF scheduled more workshops and outreach in specific communities, such as Inverness (Marin County) and Guerneville (Sonoma County). It also moved training workshops to new sites in an effort to reach local audiences where the pathogen is most prominent in a given season. In 2007, for example, workshops will be held for the first time at Pt. Reyes National Seashore and in Woodside, Calif. And, because of survey responses and suggestions, COMFT redesigned and updated its Web site http://www.suddenoakdeath.org to better highlight the information most people were interested in finding on the site.
In other results from the survey:
• 90 percent of respondents from 14 infested counties indicated a moderate to high level of concern.
• 91 percent of respondents have easy access to information that answers most or all of their questions.
• 72 percent of respondents choose the COMTF Web site as their first information resource.
• Of the 65 percent of respondents who have attended COMTF training sessions, most consider them either very (64 percent) or moderately (38 percent) useful.


Supporting Unit: Marin County

Janice Alexander, Marin County UCCE Sudden Oak Death Outreach Coordinator,
(415) 499-4204, jalexander@ucdavis.edu