Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

February 20, 2007

State Declares Nassau County Free of Sudden Oak Death

New York State Acting Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today announced that Sudden Oak Death, a disease that has killed oaks in the western coastal region of the U.S., is known to not occur in Nassau County. A bark sample from a red oak tree in the Tiffany Creek Preserve in Oyster Bay (Nassau County) was reported as positive for Sudden Oak Death in June 2004, however subsequent sampling and testing has proven negative.

"Although Sudden Oak Death has primarily been found in California and Oregon in the U.S., it is a great concern to our nursery and ornamental industries and forest health managers, because of the number of ornamental plant species associated with the spread of this disease," Hooker said. "I am relieved to know that this disease does not occur in Nassau County, however, we will continue to be vigilant in surveying for exotic plant pests to ensure a healthy green industry in New York State."

When Sudden Oak Death was first reported in Nassau County, the Tiffany Creek Preserve was immediately placed under quarantine. The Departmentís Division of Plant Industry, in cooperation with USDAís Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the U.S. Forest Service, conducted an extensive survey and sampling at the site and found no other detection of the disease in nearby vegetation, soil or water. USDA recommended the removal of the red oak that tested positive and required intensive monitoring of the preserve for two years, including four scheduled samplings and routine testing of vegetation, soil and water.

In accordance with the protocol prescribed by USDA APHIS, the last of four surveys was completed on September 19, 2006. The analytical results from all four surveys (May 23, 2005; September 27, 2005; May 23, 2006; and September 19, 2006) reported negative results for Sudden Oak Death. Therefore, USDA has announced that Sudden Oak Death is known to not occur in the Tiffany Creek Preserve, Nassau County. As a result of the findings, federal and state quarantines have been lifted from the Tiffany Creek Preserve.

Sudden Oak Death was first reported in the U.S. in California in 1995, and since then, hundreds of thousands of coastal oaks have been killed by the pathogen. As of January 2002, the disease was known to occur only in California and southwestern Oregon. In February 2002, federal regulations were published to control the movement of nursery stock associated with the spread of the pathogen from those states. Sudden Oak Death can be identified by the bleeding or oozing of a dark reddish-brown thick sap on tree trunks.

The Department conducts a variety of activities under New York Stateís Plant Pest Law aimed at the detection and control of noxious weeds, invasive insects and diseases, such as Sudden Oak Death. These safeguarding activities include inspections of plants and plant products, participation in federal and state cooperative control programs, phytosanitary inspections of goods moving in foreign and domestic trade, and education and outreach initiatives.

The Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) Program is administered by the Department to aid in the early detection of plant pests and export enhancement. CAPS works with state and federal agencies, industry trade associations, invasive management organizations and the general public to raise the awareness of plant pests. For more information about CAPS, Sudden Oak Death or other plant threats, please visit

2007 Press Releases