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In the last few months the state of Missouri has begun to take steps to prevent a disease from wiping out the state’s black walnut trees. KSMU’s Justin Lux has the story.
Walking along the trails at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center, the forest is rich with many types of trees, including the black walnut tree. But the Thousand Canker Disease could change that.
The disease, which was officially recognized in 2008, is caused by a fungus that is transferred from tree to tree by the walnut twig beetle. Conservationists now believe the disease has produced widespread death of the black walnut tree in the western United States over the last decade.
Jon Skinner, an urban forester with the Missouri Department of Conservation, says the disease could financially damage Missouri down the road.
“Worst case scenario could be quite bad. The Department of Conservation did a financial study a few months ago and their estimate over 20 years is a $851 million loss to the state of Missouri,” Skinner says.
Fortunately, Skinner says there are ways for Missouri citizens to possibly control the spreading of the disease.
“The things that people can do to prevent this is not move fire wood, not import any kind untreated black walnut into Missouri,” he says.
On April 12 the Missouri Department of Agriculture enforced a quarantine for the state. The ruling acknowledged that any state that has been identified as having Thousand Canker Disease is prohibited from bringing in any potentially infected items into Missouri.
The disease could also potentially affect Missouri businesses. Brian Hammons is the president of Hammons Product Company which produces Black Walnut nuts in Stockton, Missouri.
“The nuts are fine. Although, if the tree is infected its life is shortened quite a bit. In fact, once it takes hold and is noticeable on a tree it’s not many years before the tree dies. It doesn’t produce nuts for very many years after that,” Hammons says.
He and conservationists are both keeping a close eye on the spread of the Thousand Canker Disease.
The easiest symptoms to identify are the yellowing and thinning of leaves, as well as signs of dead leaves. Also, you can look for branches falling off of black walnut trees. If you begin to notice any of these signs, officials ask you to contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
For KSMU News, I’m Justin Lux.