Laurel Wilt Disease Project

Grants and Contracts Details


LWD is an invasive disease capable of killing plants in the Lauraceae family, caused by a fungus (Raffaelea lauricola) vectored by the redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus), both of which are native to Asia. Since it was first reported in the US in 2002, LWD has caused extensive death of redbay laurel (Persea borbonia) and other species in the coastal southeastern US. Recently, in a huge jump in its range, laurel wilt was detected in KY and TN causing death of sassafras trees. Right now, LWD appears relatively contained to a small pocket of 6 counties on the border of KY and TN. There will be no quarantine to limit the spread of laurel wilt as it has little economic importance (although valued by woodworkers and certain communities) however it has great ecological significance. In addition, areas near this outbreak have some of the largest sassafras trees on record, with the national champion sassafras tree within 100 miles. While potential management approaches for LWD on sassafras exist (e.g. fungicide treatments, chipping of diseased trees) they are still highly experimental due to a lack of information. However, educating the public about LWD, reducing the movement of infected/infested wood and encouraging active management by landowners are key for slowing its spread and minimizing its impact. We cannot undo the introduction of LWD but now is a key window for containing this disease before it spreads throughout the region. To slow LWD, we propose a combination of outreach and management, engaging a diverse range of stakeholders with the potential to spread LWD or be negatively impacted by it and connecting them to management options to reduce spread and facilitate recovery. The activities proposed here will not only enable landowners to respond to and recover from LWD but raise awareness about other invasive threats (e.g. soon-to-arrive emerald ash borer and invasive plants) and good forest management in general. Scope of services: We will coordinate and implement the Laurel Wilt Disease grant, which aims to limit the spread of laurel wilt disease and other forest health issues through outreach and management. Specifically, we will: 1. Develop a plan for project implementation in conjunction with the Kentucky Division of Forestry. 2. Develop targeted programing, outreach materials, advertising and other means for increasing awareness of forest health issues. 3. Work with landowners and land managers to conduct active management for laurel wilt disease and other forest health issues. 4. Use funds to hire a project coordinator or other assistance as needed. 5. Work with other project partners to pursue active management options and any work that may assist in containing the laurel wilt disease outbreak. 6. Conduct necessary trainings, produce materials, purchase supplies/tools and conduct any other related work in order to successfully implement the project plan
Effective start/end date1/1/216/30/24


  • KY Division of Forestry: $130,000.00


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