Press Releases

Disease Outbreak Spurs State to Quarantine Walnut Trees in Jefferson Co.

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture; December 10, 2012:

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture today announced the discovery of a walnut tree killing disease, Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD), in Jefferson County. The county is now under quarantine. Hamblen County is now considered a buffer regulated county because it is adjacent to a quarantined county. Rhea County is also being placed in the buffer regulated category because Walnut Twig Beetles have been caught in the county but no TCD fungus has been found.

“We will continue to survey our forests and work to help slow the spread of the disease.” said TDA Plant Certification Administrator Gray Haun. “We are working with stakeholders to help educate citizens on the symptoms of TCD and how they can help.”

TCD is a progressive disease that may kill a tree within two to three years after initial symptoms are detected. The disease-causing fungus, Geosmithia morbida, is transmitted by the Walnut Twig Beetle, Pityophthorus juglandis. Branches and trunk tissue are killed by multiple infections of the fungus as the beetles carry the fungus from one area to the next.

TDA plant inspectors and foresters will continue to conduct a thorough survey of trees in these areas to assess the extent of the infestation and to see if more areas need to be quarantined. Counties already under quarantine for TCD include Anderson, Blount, Knox, Loudon, Sevier and Union. Adjacent counties to the quarantined areas are also restricted for movement of walnut products and hardwood firewood.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry estimates that 1.38 million black walnut trees in Tennessee’s urban areas are potentially at risk from TCD. The risk represents an estimated value loss of $1.37 billion. There are an estimated 26 million black walnut trees on Tennessee public and private timberland potentially valued as high as $1.47 billion.

TDA officials urge area residents and visitors to help prevent the spread of TCD:

  • Don’t transport firewood, even within Tennessee. Don’t bring firewood along for camping trips. Buy the wood you need from a local source. Don’t bring wood home with you.
  • Don’t buy or move firewood from outside the state. If someone comes to your door selling firewood, ask them about the source, and don’t buy wood from outside the state.
  • Watch for signs of infestation in your black walnut trees. If you suspect your black walnut tree could be infested with TCD, visit for an online symptoms checklist and report form or call TDA’s Regulatory Services Division at 1-800-628-2631.

More information about Thousand Cankers Disease and forest health threats in Tennessee can be found at For more information about other programs and services of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture visit .


Jefferson Co. Busts Budgets By $70K

Jefferson County officials spent $70,200 more than the county commission had appropriated, busting budgets from public works to welfare services during the 2010 fiscal year, state auditors found in an annual review of the county’s finances.

Auditors noted that another fund, the law library fund, had expenses and encumbrances of more than $8,100, even though the county commission had not adopted a budget for the fund.

No worries. County officials should have extra cash on hand after approving a 12-cent property tax hike last year.

“We need a little more money this year to make everything work,” County Commission Chairman Phillip Kindred said at the time of the August vote.

Kindred may want to revise his estimate upward, since auditors have determined the county had a $4.9 million deficit in the solid waste disposal fund at the end of 2010, an increase of more than $216,000 from the previous year. The deficit resulted from the whopping costs, also in the $4.9 million range, of closing a county landfill and maintaining it for 30 years afterward. It was a problem auditors had noted the previous year, leading them to conclude that “management is either unwilling or unable to address the deficiency.”

Auditors have run into similar landfill closure costs in Cumberland and Hardeman counties.

Auditors also faulted Jefferson County for poor recordkeeping in the county clerk’s office and, in the schools department, failure to account for federal stimulus funds separately from other county funds.