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John Werner, Scarsdale, NY is the winner!

Blister rust is the answer for Week 282 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

Join in the discovery!

Monday: It became a problem on the Clearwater in the 1920s.

Tuesday: Different remedies were tried.

White Pine Blister Rust is caused by a fungus (Cronartium ribicola) that can be deadly if it is allowed to spread from an infected branch into the trunk. The fungus may also infect other plants of the genus Ribes such as currents and gooseberries.

According to the Cornell University web site, ( the symptoms appear in late summer or fall as small, yellow spots on needles. The infection spreads down the needle and into the twig, where slight swelling and yellowing develops during the next growing season. These pale yellow blisters may break into the infected bark in the late spring a year or more after the bark becomes infected. Blisters disappear after they discharge their spores and form again the next year. The process continues until the infection girdles and kills the trunk.

According to The Clearwater Story by Ralph Space, early efforts to stop blister rust in the Clearwater area consisted mostly of surveying the area to find out where the disease was impacting the trees. In 1929 the first treatment began with pulling of ribes on several hundred acres and spraying on several hundred more acres.

H.E. Swanson was in charge of blister rust control on the Clearwater when it began in earnest in 1930. By 1932, there were two blister rust camps with 25 men each. and about 53,000 acres were worked.

The next year when NIRA work began, there were 14 Civilian Conservation Corps camps of 200 men each and 5 NIRA camps of 50 men each. The number of men employed in blister rust control continued at that level until about 1942, Space said. With World War II it greatly reduced the number of workers and 1943 17-year-old workers had to be employed. That continued through the war.

In 1946, 2-4DT was first used to spray the ribes. That year, there were 12 camps employing 480 men. A total of about 10,500 acres were worked. The efforts continued on.

The Forest Service took over responsibility for blister rust control on state and private, as well as national forest land in 1954. The work remained about the same until 1958 when an antibiotic, actidione was used to treat the infection. It proved successful and at the writing of his book in the mid 1960s, Space felt this would revolutionize the way blister rust was controlled.

Since that time, the Forest Service has genetically developed more disease resistant white pine species that are planted in areas for reforestation. Retired Clearwater National Forest Silvicuturist Stewart Wilson said they have a 60 percent success rate with these white pine trees. White pine continues to regenerate naturally, but those trees usually die sooner.

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