Save Austin Oaks

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Begin QuoteOne large shade tree can provide cooling equal to a four ton air conditioner.End Quote

-- Austin Energy

Stopping Oak Wilt in Austin

Oak wilt is killing Austin’s live oaks and red oaks. Please help stop the spread of this disease by making a donation to Save Austin Oaks. We need to raise at least $45,000 by June 1, 2009 to contain a rapidly expanding infection center in Travis Heights that is threatening to destroy one of Austin’s largest and oldest stand of live oaks and to spread to adjoining neighborhoods. Most of this money must come from private donations. We can stop the further spread of this disease if we act decisively. If unchecked, oak wilt will continue spreading in every direction from the existing infection center in Travis Heights, driving up the cost of containment exponentially over time, and increasing the risk of new infection centers appearing in other neighborhoods. Imagine entire neighborhoods in Austin stripped bare of live oaks and their cooling shade. Learn more about the economic benefits of our live oaks.

Our plan to control oak wilt in Austin includes the following steps:

Contain the infection center in Travis Heights and prevent its further spread by enclosing it with a trench to sever the root connections through which the disease passes to healthy trees.
Educate the neighborhood and the public on how to manage and prune healthy trees to prevent new oak wilt infections.
Diversify our urban forest by planting disease resistant species to minimize the impact of oak wilt.
Monitor the trenched area closely to eliminate any sources of airborne spread and to respond immediately and cost-effectively if there are any future outbreaks of the disease.

Five Reasons Why You Should Donate to Save Austin Oaks

  1. Irreplaceable Trees. Travis Heights and adjoining neighborhoods to the south and west are the site of one of the largest and oldest stand of live oaks in the city of Austin. Many of these oaks are hundreds of years old, some dating from before Columbus. These trees cannot be replaced in our lifetimes. The loss of these ancient and beautiful trees would be a loss to the entire city.
  2. Risk of Spread. Because of the density of live oaks in Travis Heights and adjoining neighborhoods, the disease will continue to spread if it is unchecked.  Assuming a conservative rate of movement, the current outbreak in the 1400 block of Newning Ave. can be expected to affect Little Stacy Park within two years, South Congress Avenue (and beyond into Bouldin Neighborhood) within five years and the neighborhood south of 1400 Newning immediately.  As the disease expands, it becomes more difficult and costly to contain.  If diseased trees are successfully quarantined, the fungus will eventually die in the ground.
  3. Economic Impact. The economic cost of doing nothing could be huge. As the infected area grows, the cost of containment increases exponentially. In addition, aerial photos show that Travis Heights and other central Austin neighborhoods are shaded by about 90% crown cover, much of it live oak canopies (see an aerial photo). The loss of our live oaks would have a significant impact on runoff, water quality, erosion, air quality, cooling costs and city ecosystems, ultimately resulting in increased costs for the city and its citizens. Learn more about the economic benefits of our live oaks.
  4. Your Direct Costs. If you have live oaks or red oaks on your property, you will incur costs if oak wilt reaches you. The loss of large trees can lower your property value, by $10,000 or more per tree according to many estimates, and by 13 to 19% of your property value according to one Texas A&M study (PDF, Adobe Reader is required to view). Removing and replacing dead trees is expensive -- removal of a large tree can exceed $5000. The loss of shading trees can increase your cooling costs in summer as much as 20%. Finally, fungicide treatments to protect threatened trees is costly and time consuming, and must be repeated regularly to be effective.
  5. Our City and Neighborhoods. The loss of live oaks and red oaks will have an immeasurable impact on our comfort and the aesthetics of our city. Imagine central Austin without live oaks, our neighborhood streets without overhanging shade, and ask yourself how much is it worth to prevent that happening.