Rhode Island State Report for Fall 2017

Rhode Island State Report

By Jason Vickers, NE Chapter RI state Represenatitve

Currently 36.37% of the state, mainly the coastal regions and the islands including Block Island, is experiencing moderate drought conditions leaving the other 63.63% in a normal no drought condition. This is a recent shift compared to 100% no drought conditions three months ago.

The effects of Hurricane Jose could still be felt for almost a week during September as strong wind gusts led to downed tree limbs and power lines. Thousands of Warwick residents lost power late Thursday September 21st in the afternoon, but National Grid was able to restore power to a majority of homes by that evening.

A new wave of caterpillars has begun feasting on trees in western Rhode Island, and the Department of Environmental Management is sounding the alarm.

From the Providence Journal on Monday September 18th, "The DEM reported Monday that small concentrations of orange-striped oakworm caterpillars have been defoliating oak trees in forested areas of Scituate, Coventry and Foster. Other areas of the state may also be affected.

Unlike gypsy moth caterpillars, the orange-striped oakworm is native to North America and can be found throughout New York and New England, and from Wisconsin to Georgia, the DEM reports. Although outbreaks of orange-striped oakworm occasionally cause widespread defoliations lasting up to four years, insects, diseases and other natural enemies build up over time and reduce the population to tolerable levels. Pockets of defoliation are typically less than 1,000 acres. In 2005, nearly 16,000 acres were affected in central Scituate and Coventry.

University of Rhode Island research associate Heather Faubert says that some defoliation from the caterpillars occurs every year and usually does not harm trees. However, because oak trees in Rhode Island have already been stressed this year by drought and gypsy moth defoliation, the DEM expects to see measurable tree mortality this time around."

The R.I. Tree Council will be holding a Tree Stewards Education Course this Fall. For more information and dates visit www.ritree.org   

There will be RI arborist exam given at the DEM downtown office in October. Rhode Island Arborist exams are given on or about the last Friday of January, March, June and October. You can visit: http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/forestry/urban-forestry/ and scroll down for information on the Arborist Exam. The exam is based on the updated ISA Manual. Visit www.newenglandisa.org/certification and click on the study guide link to order.

Be well and enjoy your surroundings!