Discovery is second case in the Adirondacks
By Mike Lynch
Beech leaf disease has been discovered in the town of Bolton on the western side of Lake George, making it the second case in the Adirondack Park, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program said Thursday.
The affected trees are along a hiking trail that runs through Bolton’s Edgecomb Pond property.
State Department of Environmental Conservation forest health technicians made the discovery on June 20 when monitoring the Cat and Thomas mountains area. It was confirmed on July 11. Of the 106 trees surveyed, five had mild symptoms
The first confirmed case of BLD in the Adirondacks was in Herkimer County in 2022; it was first confirmed in the U.S. in Ohio in 2012. The disease has since spread throughout much of western New York, Long Island, and lower Hudson Valley. Its origins are unknown.
The disease can kill adult trees in six to 10 years and younger ones in just a few years. It is at least the second disease to impact the species. Beech bark disease has been killing mature beech trees for decades.
Beech nuts are a major food source for many Adirondack animals, ranging from birds to bears.
The disease’s symptoms include dark striping between the leaf veins, leaf curling, and a leathery leaf texture.
BLD is linked to a nematode worm, but it’s unclear if the worm deserves full blame. Exactly what causes the disease, how it spreads, and how to manage it are all unknown.
APIPP will be doing additional surveys in the area to determine the extent of the infestation.
“The most important thing we can do at this point is to gather as much data as possible,” said APIPP Terrestrial Invasive Species Project Coordinator Becca Bernacki.
The announcement comes less than a week before an APIPP training program about the disease. A free webinar, “Forest Pest Hunters: Surveying for Beech Leaf Disease,” is being offered from 10 a.m to 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 2. To register for this free online training, visit www.adkinvasives.com/events.
“The upcoming training will teach people how to identify and report beech leaf disease,” Bernacki said. “We will emphasize the importance of gaining an understanding of how big the newly discovered infestation is, but we also need people to be on the lookout for BLD across the Adirondacks.”
Community scientists, like those who participate in APIPP’s Forest Pest Hunters program, are invaluable to BLD research, according to APIPP. By reporting where BLD is present in the Adirondacks and where it is not yet found, volunteers contribute data toward protecting the region’s beech forests.
For more information on APIPP’s Forest Pest Hunters program, visit www.adkinvasives.com/Get-Involved/Volunteer/Forest-Pest-Hunting.