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Sudden Oak Death Blitz - A citizen science project


Sudden Oak Death Blitz
A citizen science project

What is the Sudden Oak Death Blitz?

1.  Spend one hour learning basic disease biology and how to identify it in the field, making you an expert

2.  Receive all necessary collection materials and instructions on how to sample. Note that sampling has to happen 1-2 days after the training

3.  Spend 1-4 hours on your own in a location of your choice (your property, business, favorite forest or campground) looking for disease symptoms and collecting symptomatic leaves 

How the blitz works - SOD Blitzs

This activity is enjoyed by adults and children. It is a great school project.

You will become officially a citizen scientist and your published disease distribution data will help save our oaks. All at no cost to you. Tree care specialists attending the training can bring in clients’ samples. 

Sudden Oak Death (SOD), a serious exotic disease, is threatening the survival of tanoak and several oak species in California. Currently SOD is found in the wildlands of 14 coastal California counties, from Monterey to Humboldt. While patchy in distribution, with each passing year, the swath of infection continues to become more contiguous. Researchers have discovered that Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes SOD, spreads most often on infected California bay laurel leaves. Symptomatic bay leaves are often the first sign that SOD has arrived at a location, and generally precedes oak infections. Some management options are available (sanitation, chemical preventative treatments, bay removal), but they are effective only if implemented before oaks and tanoaks are infected; hence, timely detection of the disease on bay laurel leaves is key for a successful proactive attempt to slow down the SOD epidemic.

Meeting Locations

10-11 a.m. Saturday May 30, 2015. This is a free event. Register here.

Santa Rosa: Spring Lake Park Environmental Discovery Center. Use park entrance at Violetti Drive, upper parking lot. 

Graton: Graton Community Club at Main and N Edison in Graton

Cloverdale: Cloverdale Historical Society, 215 N Cloverdale Blvd

Oaks become at risk if the disease is within 200 yards from them. Find out if SOD is 200 yards away, here’s how. 

A message from Matteo Garbelotto, SOD Researcher, UC Berkeley: Many of our tree species are susceptible to SOD and several oak species and tanoaks can be killed in large numbers; in the worst sites 70-100% of trees are dead. Since its introduction, the disease has been spreading slowly but steadily and now it is present in 15 contiguous counties from Humboldt to Monterey. In about 15 years of research we have found several effective control measures, but these need to be applied before oaks are infected. Oaks become at risk exclusively if the disease is within 200 yards from them!!

Each year there is a massive surveying effort organized by U.C Berkeley with the help of organizations such as UCCE, the California Native Plant Society and the US Forest Service. This effort represents one of the strongest and now prolonged “citizen science” effort not only in the State, but in the whole country. The volunteer-based surveys have been dubbed SOD BLITZES and we are asking you to join the effort: we need your help to track this tree killer. All data generated by the BLITZES is made public through the web (, an APP (SODmap mobile), and the media.

UCCE Sonoma County | 133 Aviation Blvd, Suite 109 | Santa Rosa | CA | 95403

Hosted by the Sonoma County Master Gardeners Sudden Oak Death Specialists. Thanks to the USDA Forest Service for funding this program.

Information Desks: 
Santa Rosa: (707) 565-2608 
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