SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS (KCBS) – Crews have begun chopping down hundreds of trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains in an effort to save dozens from sudden oak death.

Workers are using chainsaws, hand saws and weed wrenches to eliminate 250 or so bay trees in the area.

“The weed wrench is like a clamp with a long handle,” said Cindy Roessler, a biologist with the Midpeninsula Open Space District. “You clamp it on at the base of the plant, you pull on it and it pulls it out by hand.”

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

Roessler said that research has shown that if there are no bay trees within 15 feet of oak trees, the oaks are much less likely to be killed by sudden oak death.

“It was a selfish choice, cutting down one native tree to protect another,” Roessler said. “But we think this is the right decision. These are very large and old oak trees.”

It is still uncertain exactly how effective this method will be in preventing the spread of the pathogen that kills oak trees.

“We will be going back and checking these 50 large oak trees forever,” said Roessler. “We will be seeing how long they survive and seeing if they do succumb to sudden oak death.”

The project was funded by a Proposition 84 grant and work is expected to be completed by this Thursday.

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