ADIRONDACKS—Beech leaf disease is in the Adirondacks, and scientists need help gathering data on the newly emerging forest pest. To teach community scientists how to identify and report beech leaf disease, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program will host a free webinar from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15, called “Forest Pest Hunters: Surveying for Beech Leaf Disease.”
Beech leaf disease was first detected in Ohio in 2012 and in New York state in 2018. In 2022, the state Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed the presence of beech leaf disease in over 30 counties in New York including Herkimer County, the first documented infestation in the Adirondack region. Beech leaf disease can kill mature beech trees in six to 10 years, while young trees can be killed in as little as two to three years.
The disease is believed to be associated with the nematode Litylenchus crenatae mccannii, but since the nematode has also been found on trees that are not showing symptoms of beech leaf disease, it is unclear if the nematode is the sole cause of the disease or is only a vector of unknown pathogens. Researchers are still trying to determine the cause of the disease and how it spreads, and that’s where the webinar comes in. Anyone who attends the event will be able to help track beech leaf disease’s presence and contribute to a valuable database that scientists can use to better understand this invasive threat.
During the webinar, DEC Forest Health Specialist Maria MoskaLee will shed some light on beech leaf disease with a discussion on its history, identification and lookalikes, and current research. APIPP Terrestrial Invasive Species Coordinator Becca Bernacki will cover basic survey techniques and how to sign up for a trail to survey, and the New York Natural Heritage Program’s Invasive Species End User Support Specialist Mitchell O’Neill will review the iMapInvasives app, which can be used to report the presence of BLD.
Among other topics, the webinar will cover symptoms of the disease, which can be seen on the leaves of beech trees: dark striping between the leaf veins, curling, and a leathery texture can all indicate an infestation. A few leaves may be affected in the early stages of infection, and a single tree can have both heavily infected and unaffected branches. Beech trees are valued by wildlife for nesting sites, as well as for the nuts they produce that are a common forage of birds, black bears, and other wildlife.
To register for “Forest Pest Hunters: Surveying for Beech Leaf Disease,” visit www.adkinvasives.com/events.
For more information about beech leaf disease, visit Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program | Beech leaf disease nematode (adkinvasives.com)
The Society of American Foresters has approved 1.5 hours of Category 1 Continuing Forestry Education credits for this workshop. Participants who desire credits must attend the entire webinar.
APIPP’s mission is to protect the Adirondack region from the negative impacts of invasive species. Learn more at www.adkinvasives.com.
The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) serves as the Adirondack Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM), one of eight partnerships across New York. APIPP is hosted by The Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and receives financial support from the Environmental Protection Fund administered by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Photo at top provided by Shaun Kittle, Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program Communications Coordinator.