View Full Version : Asheville, NC Hemlock Article

08-25-2007, 02:37 PM
Hello all,

I thought maybe some of you might be interested in this article. To be honest, I was a little dissapointed in the lack of interest in Hans post on Hemlock mortality in the Smokies do to the Hemlock Adelgid. I guess I am prejudice since I am a forester, but I believe the Hemlock problem is a much serious long-term problem than people fishing in the Park under current conditions. Do I have any facts to back this up? I don't, but common sense tells me that there will be problem when a major tree species like the hemlocks could disappear from riparian areas in the Smokies and other areas where it is found. I know just enough of wildlife and aquatic habitat to be very dangerous, but one thing I usually hear from biologists is Habitat, Habitat, Habitat, LOL. If you don't have the proper habitat for any particular creature it is unlikely to survive over the long term. I have a great love for hemlocks, and my favorite saying is that I have never seen hemlocks in a place that wasn't very beautiful.




Gerry Romer
08-25-2007, 02:57 PM
pineman19 --

thanks for the link. very frightening, indeed.

i seem to recall an article in our local paper about a local private effort near blackberry farms that involved a topical spray of some sort. if i remember correctly the words "guarded optimism" were used in the article. i'll see what i can dig up.

thanks again


08-25-2007, 03:12 PM
pineman, your concerns are justified. Without a tree canopy, there is nothing to block the sun from the streams. The result is increased water temperature.

08-25-2007, 03:30 PM
Thanks Neal for bringing this topic back. Yes indeed it is a very serious matter and one that I have had some nightmares about lately. I'm not known to post much about negative things and not known to participate in hot topics on this board. On this one though, I am very troubled. I will go as far to say that our debate about c&r or fishing at high water temps pale in comparison to what this can cause. It is as simple as this. With climate change occurring, (regardless if you believe it is natural or man made it is occurring) and hemlocks dying which is also occurring, I don't think there will be much of any kind of trout or char in these mountains except tailwaters. If and only If, another species will take over the stream side habitat and Neal thinks it will be mostly rhododendron could we get the same shade. The problem as I see it with rhododendron is that it is not tall enough to provide much shading. I hope someone can prove me wrong, but I think this spells devastation ahead. I'm usually a positive guy but I just don't see anything that can stop this.

Dancing Bear
08-25-2007, 06:38 PM
I have been coming to these mountains since before I can remember, literally (late 1950's). My family always went to the Smokies on vacation. I remember hiking in the balsams before they began to die out from the same type of critter.
As much as I love the Smokies, it is not the same as it was before the big balsams died out. I hate to think what it will be like if we loose the hemlocks. A biologist with the NPS said they were having pretty good success in the frontcountry where there is access. The backcountry is not fairing as well. We should really get behind the effort to save these trees. I don't what we need to do but we need to do something. Somebody, please advise...

08-25-2007, 08:19 PM
I am a member of the Great smokey Mountain Assc. They are selling shirts for the hemlocks. The are realy nice shirts and all the profits go toward the Hemlock projects. I know this is a store front board and I would not usualy recomend other shopping places. but GSMA is a nonprofit group that put all its profits back in to the park. I have 2 of the shirts and Gaintfish has another. I can't afford to give a lot but everytime I come up I spend a least $50 at the store. Buy a shirt and help fund the Hemlock project. I am sure Sam could give more info.

08-26-2007, 07:18 AM
I live in a lowland Hemlock forest. These @#$% bugs are everywhere on this side of the Chilhowee and infest Happy Valley as well. I am controlling them on my land with insecticide on the smaller trees and trenching the bigger ones. The reason being is that true control is expensive and none of my neighbors seem to care. So they are letting the infestations run wild. Once their trees die I will begin a full eradication program which involves trenching around the trees & pouring in a nicotine solution. this is absorbed into the tree and when the little sap sucking pests dine, they die.

In defense of my nearest neighbor, treatment for his trees would cost him $8,500.00 for a three year treatment. Money he just does not have, especially every three years. My home place will not be the same once we lose them.

Most any tree service can provide this or direct you to someone who can. That $8500.00 is for about two acres of BIG Hem's. Project this out to the Park and you'll see that most stands are simply doomed. A hike to Rainbow Falls will show you what to expect. Very sad...........

08-27-2007, 08:49 PM
The property I bought this weekend in Cosby has a number of hemlocks of various sizes that (thankfully) look ok for now. To be honest, while I knew about this pest, I hadn't given it much thought - as it turns out, if there isn't a replacement species for the hemlock, this will be much worse than the chestnut blight. While driving over the mountains on 441, I could see the dead hemlocks around the Chimneys - very depressing; they looked just like the dead pine trees we had several years ago during an infestation of Southern Pine Beetles...unlike the adelgids, they went away.

Seems like the best hope are these beetles - there's no way they can treat individual trees on a vast scale.

I found this on a web site in Pennsylvania:

"Low winter temperatures, cold snaps (episodes of freezing and thawing), and heavy thunderstorms can reduce populations of the hemlock woolly adelgid. Particularly in the mountains, it is not uncommon to find hemlocks where the insect has been killed on the top third of the trees, where it's colder and windier, but survive on the bottom two-thirds. On the other hand, mild winters can result in sharp increases in hemlock woolly adelgid populations."

So, that's the other hope, along with the beetles - a cold winter.

08-27-2007, 10:49 PM
Congratulations on the purchase of your property, IJ!
From what little I know about the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, there are several universities growing the lady bugs to attack the adelgids. Whether that will work or not remains to be seen. The loss of the Hemlocks will be sad should they go. The earth will continue to go on though and life will slowly creep in and fill the voids left by the many (hopefully not all) hemlocks which will be killed. I love the Hemlocks as well, wish they and the poplars could talk, to tell of what they have seen in their long lives. These bugs blow in the wind. I have seen spring days when it looked like it was snowing with them blowing in the breeze. Species have come and gone since the beginning of time. Do what you can when you have time in your busy lives, but try not to be alarmists. The media is full of nothing but bad news, day-in and day-out. Don't get taken in by it.
Does anyone know who to contact about the project at UT? I bet they would like to have people willing to pack these ladybugs into quadrants of the park. One thing I saw in the article talked about the acidity they contribute to the soil and water in their range.

08-27-2007, 11:20 PM
Hey John,

Hopefully we'll officially close on the property soon...have to get some things done with the county. Who knows when I'll build on it - it's just neat to have a place to pitch a tent, within a mile or so of the park.

I also read that, in at least some cases, new shoots can grow from the root systems of killed hemlocks, so there's some hope. This is something that will have to play itself out over the next several years. In the meantime, the mountains need rain and cool air - the streams on the Tennessee side are really hurting. Unfortunately (for the mountains), nothing brewing in the tropics, although that can change in a hurry.

Gerry Romer
09-24-2007, 10:19 PM
This Sunday's Knoxville News Sentinel contained a couple stories on the plight of the Hemlock in the Smokies and the progress the park service has made to date. The second article had some specific numbers regarding treatments in a number of areas in the park - both roadside and backcountry.

Kind of encouraging...

http://search.knoxnews.com/sp?eId=11&ecId=34059011&rNum=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.knoxnews.com%2Fnews%2F2007%2F sep%2F23%2Fpark-trees-ecosystem%2F

http://search.knoxnews.com/sp?eId=11&ecId=34059011&rNum=2&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.knoxnews.com%2Fnews%2F2007%2F sep%2F23%2Ftactics-may-avoid-devastation%2F


09-25-2007, 12:02 AM
Thanks for the links Gerry. I do believe there is a better long-term chance at survival of some hemlocks since it's an insect killing the trees instead of a disease like the chestnut blight. The blight persists even after mature chestnut trees have been gone for at least 50 years. Seems like the adelgid would put itself out of business if it killed the majority of hemlocks in a particular area.

I wasn't aware that they were treating hemlocks in the more remote areas of the Park. They should be commended for doing the hard work that is necessary do do these types of treatments. Hopefully, the predator beetles they are releasing will grow in population so biological control is possible as well.