Oak wilt is a deadly disease and is being found in more and more areas with the most recent in the Vilas County town of Conover according to letters reviewed by the county Forestry, Land & Recreation Committee last week.
A letter from Partners in Forestry suggested brushing by the Town of Conover along Rummels Road may have contributed to oak wilt being identified near Highway "S" and Rummels Road and is is close proximity to Land O' Lakes. Murray said it was not Vilas County that identified Conover as the possible responsible party but likely a DNR Forest Health Specialist. The specialist indicated “this tree had been injured from road work by the Town of Conover.”
Presently cutting or pruning oak is not recommended between April 15 and July 15, although that is currently being looked for expansion to October. Once an oak has oak wilt, there is no cure, and is spread by a beetle attracted to injured oaks. When red oak is infected, it will lose most of its leaves and die within a month.
Conover indicated they were well aware of the danger of oak wilt and took preventive measures when widening Rummels Road. “The trees in question in that area were harvested between November 8 and December 20, 2018 and the brush from the harvest was burned during that same time period,” their letter from town supervisor Tom Timken stated. “Conover was alarmed to have found a tree testing positive for oak wilt at that location but do not feel the town contributed to the problem.”
DNR forest liason Jill Nemec said DNR has four staff statewide thay look for and address oak wilt and survey via aircraft and road travel.