Hemlock trees across Western North Carolina are being devastated by the hemlock woolly adelgid, an insect that sucks the sap of young twigs, which leads to tree death. The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is putting a good amount of money into efforts to fight this pest.
The department will use $100,000 from the state’s legal settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority to start the Hemlock Restoration Initiative.
Hemlocks are important as habitat for nesting songbirds; they provide shade that cools mountain waters where trout live; and they also help benefit plant nurseries, landscapers, homeowners and tourism.
The goal is to ensure that, by 2025, Eastern and Carolina hemlocks in North Carolina can resist the adelgid and survive to maturity.
Many people, groups and agencies already are working on promising approaches to return hemlocks to long-term health. This research includes the search for naturally resistant trees, testing of predator beetles that eat adelgids, and efforts to bring in resistance from similar tree species. The focus will be on speeding up the most promising ideas, not reinventing the wheel.
The department has selected WNC Communities, an Asheville-based nonprofit, as its primary partner for the project. WNC Communities can bring together the right mix of researchers, funding organizations and others to make sure we use the best efforts to return hemlocks to long-term health.
The department also wants to work with colleagues in other states to bring more resources to the table. Hemlocks can be found in 25 states, and state boundaries are meaningless to the adelgid. By working across state lines, the effort can bring together the best people and resources to solve this problem.
Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss the Hemlock Restoration Initiative.
[Audio:http://info.ncagr.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Troxler_4-1.mp3|titles=Today’s Topic for April 1]
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