Last Saturday, SAHC led our first guided hike of 2017 through the protected woods of our 400-acre conservation easement at Christmount. The weather was lovely, with a clear blue winter sky, allowing for beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Black Mountains. Hikers had a chance to learn about the connected landscape of protected lands in the region and to see other places SAHC has worked to protect, including the Montreat Wilderness and our Laurel Ridge preserve. Read more
Until recently, landowners with hemlock trees had few options available for prevention or treatment of the exotic invasive Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), an aphid-like insect that feeds on hemlocks and ultimately kills them. However, the Hemlock Restoration Initiative (HRI) is stepping forward to connect landowners, HWA researchers, government agencies and landowners, among others, to comprehensively address the adelgid invasion.
So, how can you help in restoring hemlocks on your property and elsewhere? HRI recommends the following:
- Educate yourself – Visit the HRI website to learn more about the HWA, including how to identify it and what your treatment options may be.
- Protect high value trees – For those interested in do-it-yourself management, soil injections may be an option; injection prices have continued to drop while treatment effectiveness has increased.
- Look for resistant hemlocks – If you have noted previously untreated, healthy hemlocks on your property, you may have found a HWA resistant strain. Learn how to identify and report potentially resistant trees here.
- Follow the beetles – Researchers have introduced predatory beetles (Laricobius nigrinus) that prey on the HWA as a long term biological control. Visit the HRI beetle page for up-to-date information on past releases and locations.
Dubbed the “Redwood of the East”, eastern hemlock is a long-lived and slowing growing giant that can reportedly live up to 800 years-old and reach heights of more than 150 feet. The species is considered to be the most shade tolerant tree in the Eastern US and is an ecologically important component of Southern Appalachian forests. The dense shade cast by the evergreen tree’s canopy creates critical wildlife habitat, stabilizes stream banks, and keeps mountain forests and streams cool.
Many forest and aquatic species depend on the presence of hemlocks, whose numbers have declined significantly in the past 10 years due to the introduction and spread of the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). In fact, by 2010 all NC counties within the historic range of hemlocks were infested. This tiny aphid-like insect has wreaked havoc on both eastern and Carolina hemlocks by literally sucking the trees dry and injecting saliva that distorts plant growth. Under high infestation rates, HWA can cause tree death in as little as four to seven years. Read more
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