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Non-Commercial Orchard Removal Aims to Protect Commercial Groves and Reduce Fire Risks

By on October 7, 2015 in News, Press

Virtual Terrain TourA project to remove several thousand orange trees at the Ventura River Preserve will address community threats caused by the mix of live and dead orange trees in the historic orchard, and make way for the re-establishment of native oak savanna and woodland habitats. Beginning on October 12, the tree removal will be done mechanically by masticating the trees in place. Trails will be closed to keep visitors a safe distance from the activity.

Removing the old orchard has multiple benefits, one being the reduction of threats from the spread of a lethal citrus disease carried by the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP). Derelict orchards around the Ojai Valley are potential host sites for the psyllids, which have already been found in the Ojai Valley. The ACP is a flying insect that can carry a lethal citrus disease, Huanglongbing (HLB). There are no cures for HLB; once a citrus tree is infected, the tree will die. The orange grove at the Ventura River Preserve could serve as a host for this insect, becoming a threat to commercial growers in the Ojai Valley. Removing derelict orchards throughout the valley is one way to help protect local commercial citrus groves of the Ojai Valley.

“If ACP were to be found on the preserve, it would require extensive chemical treatments on the preserve, and possibly on neighboring properties. The OVLC will responsibly remove the threat in advance as a way of protecting commercial groves and reducing the need for any chemical treatment,” says Brian Stark, Executive Director.

“There are a lot of untended and/or inadequately cared for citrus trees in the Ojai valley that serve as potential harbors for this pest and disease. If people have untended citrus trees they should seriously consider having them removed now before the bacterial disease arrives in our precious valley,” says Emily Ayala of Friend’s Ranch.

As many of the trees are already dead, they also comprise a substantial fuel source for wildfires. Removing the dead trees will help reduce threats from fuel loading. Some selected dead trees will remain, however, to provide temporary bird habitats until new natives can be raised. Finally, the tree removal will make room for the planting of hundreds of new live oaks as part of the larger restoration efforts at the preserve. The work at the Ventura River Preserve will cause temporary trail closures beginning October 12. We ask visitors to please observe posted trail closure signs.

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