Washington State Senate holds hearing on groundbreaking research to protect Western Washington forests
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Washington State Senate holds hearing on groundbreaking research to protect Western Washington forests 
 


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
                                                                                                         
February 5, 2014  

Washington State Senate holds hearing on groundbreaking research to protect Western Washington forests
Members from Washington State Academy of Sciences briefed Senators

OLYMPIA – Groundbreaking research from the Washington Academy of Sciences was presented yesterday to the Washington State Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee on a little understood threat to the health of Washington’s forests.

At the request of Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, the Academy of Sciences produced a report on laminated root rot, a fungal pathogen that has a significant impact on the health of Douglas fir, the backbone of Washington’s forest products industry and a keystone species of forest ecosystems across the Pacific Northwest. Laminated root rot was responsible for the closure of Kopachuck State Park in 2011, and due to the longevity of the pathogen, could keep the campground closed for good.

At yesterday’s hearing, Dr. R James Cook from Washington State University and Dr. Robert Edmonds from University of Washington presented a summary of this report and discussed ways to counteract and minimize the damage already being done by laminated root rot across the state. At the hearing, the scientists underscored the economic impact of laminated root, which can reduce the timber yield of a stand of conifers by 5 to15 percent.

“I wish to thank the chair and all the committee members on the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee for recognizing the great importance of this research,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark at the hearing. “These findings will be of tremendous significance to state and private land managers who have experienced environmental and economic loss from this devastating disease.”

While potential solutions were discussed, the takeaway message was that more research is needed at the molecular level to understand how this disease spreads from tree to tree. The scientists also called for more research into opportunities to increase resistance at the genetic level using biological technology currently leveraged in other crop industries.

Earlier in the day, Dr. Cook was honored with Senate Resolution 8677 to celebrate his distinguished and multifaceted research career, which included his significant contributions to studying root rot diseases in Douglas fir. For more information, please visit http://bit.ly/1dqPtkM.

A copy of the report is available at the Academy website: http://www.washacad.org/initiatives/files/WSAS_Laminated_Root_Rot_%202013.pdf.

Washington State Academy of Sciences Study Committee
Members of the Study Committee include: R. James Cook, Chair, Washington State University; Robert L. Edmonds, University of Washington; Ned. B. Klopfenstein, USDA Forest Service; Willis Littke, Weyerhaeuser Company; Geral McDonald, USDA Forest Service; Daniel Omdal, DNR; Karen Ripley, DNR; Charles G. “Terry” Shaw, New Zealand and US Forest Services; Rona Sturrock, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Pacific Forestry Centre; and Paul Zambino, USDA Forest Service.

Commissioner Goldmark would like to thank all of the Study Committee members and their collaborators on behalf of the citizens of Washington.

About the Washington State Academy of Sciences
The Washington State Academy of Sciences provides expert scientific and engineering analysis to inform public policy-making and works to increase the role and visibility of science in the State of Washington. Learn more at: http://www.washacad.org.

Media Contact: Diana Lofflin, Interim Communications and Outreach Director, 360-902-1023, diana.lofflin@dnr.wa.gov  

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