Pest saps oaks, and communities
Killer borer takes awful toll on trees, life in backcountry
By Robert Krier, Union-Tribune Staff Writer
2:00 a.m. June 4, 2009
Patty Stacy, 83, walked along a path lined by oak stumps on her ranch southeast of Alpine. She and her husband have had to cut down 30 oaks in the past few years. Patty Stacy remembers the massive oak that sent its dark-green foliage arching over a pond outside her ranch house in Carveacre, a tiny rural community southeast of Alpine. Stacy's grandchildren loved to clutch a rope tied to the tree, swing over the pond and then let go so they could plunge into the cool water. That was three years ago. Today, that coast live oak is nothing more than a skeleton. The rope is gone, and soon the tree will be as well. Like thousands of other oaks in San Diego County's backcountry, the tree has been attacked by a small but voracious pest: the gold-spotted oak borer. The beetle and its larvae are not only destroying centuries-old, majestic icons, but also gnawing away at the identity of neighborhoods that sprung up in the oaks' sheltering shade.