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Another threat to trees in Pennsylvania forests

Newswatch 16's Amanda Eustice spoke to a forester in Monroe County about what's affecting the trees and what's being done to try to save them.

MONROE COUNTY, Pa. — A fast-moving disease is threatening the life of beech trees across the state and here in our area.

It's the view behind Robin Miller's home in Tobyhanna Township that's disheartening for her to see. Big beautiful beech trees are shedding their leaves.

"IT was always so bright and green and just full of different shades of green in the springtime, and this year it just never happened. And you know, when we look out back here, the leaves are off the trees, and it's terrible. It is sad," Miller said.

Tim Dugan is a district forester for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) in the Delaware Forest District. He says beech leaf disease is what's causing Miller's beech trees to drop their leaves and ultimately die.

"It impacts the leaves of the tree, and without the leaves, the tree can't sustain itself, and then they die. So over the last four, five years, we watched these diseases move from western Pennsylvania across, and it is now confirmed in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania."

Foresters say it's easy to tell if your tree has beech leaf disease by looking at the leaf.

"A normal leaf will be one consistent color. When it has the beech leaf disease, you will see stripes that go from the edges that go out towards the middle, and those stripes will be darker and then lighter, darker and then lighter."

Dugan says weather patterns are partly to blame for the disease, which isn't just impacting the trees, but wildlife too.

"They do provide habitat for animals and wildlife. When we do get a good nut crop from them, beech nuts, there are a lot of animals and critters that like to enjoy that and get sustenance from it," Dugan said.

Beech trees surround Miller's property, and she's worried that their death will impact the forest.

"We don't need any more trees dying out, and that's my fear is that the beech is going to be gone from this area."

Dugan says that currently, there is no cure for beech leaf disease, but nearly every federal and state forestry agency is doing research to find one.

Penn State Extension has additional information on beech leaf disease.

Information from DCNR is posted here.

An invasive nematode is believed to be responsible for a newly found disease killing beech trees. Learn more ⤵️ #ForestFriday #PAStateForests

Posted by Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on Friday, March 18, 2022

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