The Cost of Oak Wilt
Oaks comprise a significant percentage of our forests, both urban and natural, in terms of population and canopy. Oak wilt has, perhaps, become an emotional issue to many of us. Like some human communicable diseases, we are sometimes reluctant to admit or inform others that we have a problem. I know of several oak wilt sites where home/property owners have requested anonymity. And for good reason. The presence of oak wilt can dramatically reduce property value because of the cost of containment of the disease or because so many oak trees have been eliminated by the disease. A once highly valued and lovely home site is no longer as desirable as it once was. Perhaps the site is even a liability when some of the following costs are considered (all are general estimates):
*Tree Value Losses: Potentially several $1000's per tree.
*Tree Removal Costs: $2,000- $7,000 or more per tree depending on tree size and location.
*Alamo Injection: $300-600 per tree depending on size.
*Trenching: $5-10 per linear foot for a 3-5 foot deep trench.
Between two trees only, the cost may be $300 (60ft. x $5=$300).
It is not difficult to imagine that the cost of a single incidence of oak wilt at a single urban site can easily exceed $5,000-10,000. Many of the oak trees we value are older trees, which been growing on the site at least a 100 years, long before most of us, even our older CAT readers, came into this world. Some of the even larger oak trees were growing long before President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. If we plant a small oak seedling today, it is possible that our great, great grand children may enjoy its mature, magnificent beauty.... if it survives the human onslaught. I value these large trees; they are our friends. If you’ve ever played golf on a new golf course carved out of a soybean field or if you seen new housing developments in a cornfield, you understand my sentiments. Like air and water, perhaps we’ve taken these large trees for granted by expecting them to require no care- we expect them to remain healthy regardless of what we do to them. Like oak wilt, we sometimes only react or care about health when we contract that serious disease such as cancer, and then we realize the true cost. Obviously, it is far less costly to practice preventative health care than to try to correct problems after they occur.