Friday, January 11, 2013

150 Acres of Disease

Speech to the Josephine County Commissioners, 11/24/2010.

Last night, I saw a piece on RVTV Channel 14 about Abandoned Orchards.  This Board and the Grants Pass City Council should arrange to see it.
I noticed some weeks ago that the trees in the pear orchard on the River Road Reserve, the old Naumes property, are not as pretty with fall color as they have been in the past.  It appears that about 90% of them are infected with something that turned nearly all of their leaves brown before their time.  It doesn’t appear to fire blight, as leaves that grew later in the season at the top of the trees turned pretty colors; fire blight kills entire limbs.
The video talked mainly about pear scab and fire blight, both of which also infect apples.  This infection appears to be a bit worse than scab, as it hasn’t just spotted the leaves; it has turned them completely brown.  I submit that the condition of the trees in this orchard is the real reason that Grants Pass did not allow pear picking by its residents this year.
Jackson County has a lot of commercial pear orchards, thus their interest in airing this video on our shared RVTV Channel 14.  I wonder what Jackson County, and particularly Harry and David, would think of 150 acres of pear trees, abandoned for nearly10 years and now full of pests and disease, just upwind of them in Josephine County, owned by the City of Grants Pass.  According to this video, those trees should be ripped out of the ground and burned, this winter, before tender new leaves come out in the spring to get infected.  Bacterial and fungal spores can fly a long ways, and 150 acres can make quite a cloud of spores.
Those spores are a much greater danger to backyard pear and apple trees throughout the Grants Pass area.  This abandoned orchard is a nuisance to all pear and apple growers; its noxious weeds are a nuisance to neighboring farmers; its insects spread diseases and infest our trees. 
I looked on this county’s website for any ordinance that applies to abandoned orchards, but I could find no ordinances on your site at all.  The City of Grants Pass needs to face up to its maintenance liability that it bought so cheap along with 250 acres of exclusive agricultural use land.  This Board needs to help them see it, by passing an ordinance regarding abandoned orchards if it doesn’t already have one, and enforcing it if we do.  This speech will be sent to the Jackson County Commissioners and Harry and David.  They will be watching to see what you do—or don’t.
(“Abandoned for nearly 10 years” is an exaggeration; the land was bought by Grants Pass in 2006.  It may not have been neglected prior to that; it certainly has been since.)

Published at under Land and Liability

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