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Fungus, pests afflict Northwest's ponderosa pines

Foresters say pests and fungal infections are afflicting the region's ponderosa pines, and while they seldom kill the trees, they do worry landowners.

The Spokesman-Review reports that the unsightly appearance of the trees is being caused by fungal infections and tiny insects called pine scale that thrive during cool, moist conditions. Pine scale can look like paint spatters, while fungi are identified by black or brown splotches on the needles.

Steve McConnell, a Washington State University Extension forester in Spokane, says he's getting two to three calls per day from panicky landowners. But he says that if trees are otherwise healthy, they should recover no problem.

State Department of Natural Resources officer Guy Gifford says the outbreaks are typically not so widespread. This year, he's seeing acres of affected trees, and he says that is unusual.





Washington sees spike in pesticide related illnesses

Washington sees spike in pesticide related illnesses

From the Washington State Department of Health:


There have been 15 potential pesticide drift events resulting in about 60 people getting ill reported to the Washington State Department of Health in the past two months– that’s as many the agency normally sees in a year.

Burn permits required in Idaho starting May 10th

Burn permits required in Idaho starting May 10th

From the Idaho Department of Lands:

Fungus that causes fever found in state

A fungus that can launch a fatal illness has been found for the first time in the soil of Washington.

Officials for Washington State University say the fungus can cause an illness called valley fever. The fungus is normally found in semiarid parts of the Southwest.

Valley fever occurs when the soil-dwelling fungus becomes airborne, releasing spores that get lodged in the lungs of humans and certain animals, especially dogs.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates it kills 160 people a year.

Three unrelated cases were diagnosed in Eastern Washington in 2010-11.

Scientists for Washington State say that soil samples taken recently from the vicinity tested positive for the fungus, proving it can survive here. All three people who got sick in Eastern Washington survived.

WSU seeks Imagine Tomorrow judges

From Washington State University:


The 2014 Imagine Tomorrow competition is seeking judges to evaluate the work of 9th- through 12th-graders exploring alternative energy sources. The deadline for judges to register is May 5.

 

Early cherry blooms promise good Washington crop

The cherry trees are still in bloom but growers say the 2014 crop in Washington looks promising.

Dan Kelly of the Washington Growers Clearinghouse in Wenatchee says weather has been cooperating. The bloom is nearly a week ahead of usual.

The first cherries should be picked in early June. Growers hope the harvest will last three months, which would give them better sales than with a crop that ripens all at once.

The Columbia Basin Herald reports cherries are grown from the Tri-Cities to Omak and the harvest starts in the south and moves north.

16 E. Washington cities earn Tree City USA title

16 E. Washington cities earn Tree City USA title

In honor of Arbor Day, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources is recognizing several Eastern Washington cities that have been chosen as a Tree City USA.


To be acknowledged as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation, a city needs to have either a tree board or a city department that is responsible for tree care and management, establish a tree ordinance, spend at least $2 per capita on tree care, and celebrate Arbor Day.