Deadly epidemic ravaging Bay Area trees

In sad news for trees and tree huggers everywhere, a new report finds that a deadly plant disease that affects California live oaks and black oaks is spreading further than expected. Sudden oak disease spreads through waterways and rainfall, coldly serving death sentences to its victims.

A recent UC Berkeley survey found the number of infected trees has tripled in some areas from Napa to Carmel Valley. The highest number of infected specimens was along South Skyline Boulevard between Saratoga and Los Gatos, where 97 percent tested positive for sudden oak death.

Even more alarmingly, UC Berkeley forest pathologist Matteo Garbelotto told the Chronicle the worst is yet to come:

“What we are seeing is the cumulative effect of the rain last year and the beginning of this year,” Garbelotto said. “My prediction is that next year will be even worse because then we will have the cumulative effect of a rainy 2010 and all of 2011, which was very wet.”