Spring 2015: Saving Hemlocks
This spring, work crews will suit up and go to the rescue of eastern and Carolina Hemlock trees infested by the woolly adelgid, a tiny invasive insect striking down these majestic trees. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation received a grant from the Hemlock Restoration Initiative to collaborate with the National Park Service to help save these disappearing trees which are native to North Carolina. The funding will allow the chemical treatment of trees near the Blue Ridge Parkway in Avery, Haywood, Transylvania, and Watauga counties in North Carolina. Without intervention, woolly adelgid infestations can claim trees within a few years. While treatment crews work, Southwestern NC Resource Conservation & Development Council, based at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, is working to create a hybrid hemlock species that will be resistant to the aphid-like insect. The Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development Council also is expanding its program to release a natural predator, the Laricobius nigrinus beetle native to the Pacific Northwest, which can eat six or more adelgids per day. So far, the program has seen success in the Grandfather Mountain area.