California — the only state in the US with agricultural inspection stations at state border crossings — won’t be looking inside coolers for stray fruit coming into the Golden State. They will be looking at the tops of cars and backs of pick-up trucks for rogue Christmas trees imported from the neighboring northern state of Oregon.
Californians who travel to Oregon’s Curry County to get Douglas fir trees for Christmas won’t be able to bring them back.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture says it will confiscate the trees at the agency’s Smith River Border Inspection Station on Highway 101 in an effort to stop the spread of sudden oak death, a deadly tree disease caused by a fungus.
An agency spokesman says the ban applies to trees cut for personal use, and to Douglas firs bought from commercial vendors.
Douglas fir trees can host the disease, which exists in 14 California coastal counties stretching from Humboldt to Monterey. Other species of trees aren’t affected.
Oregon is the No. 1 Christmas-tree producing state in the country.