Kentucky Division of Forestry
Saving Native Hemlocks Meeting to be held in Pineville

Press Release Date:  Thursday, April 02, 2009  
Contact Information:  Kentucky Division of Forestry
Lynn Brammer
1-800-866-0555
 


Energy and Environment Cabinet


Steven L. Beshear, Governor                                                      Len Peters, Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
Kentucky Division of Forestry
Jared Calvert
1-606-337-3011


Saving Native Hemlocks Meeting to be held in Pineville
Groups will focus on protecting native hemlocks from insect infestation


 FRANKFORT, KY – (April 2, 2009) –  A meeting to address the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) will be held on April 7 at the Bell-Whitley Community Action Center in Pineville, Kentucky, at 6 p.m.   Representatives from the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, Kentucky Division of Forestry, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Kentucky Woodland Owners Association and the Save Kentucky’s Hemlocks group will discuss available treatment options and how landowners can obtain free chemical for treatment of HWA infested trees.     
 Since 2006, infestations of HWA on Kentucky’s native hemlocks have been found in Bell, Harlan, Leslie, Letcher, Pike, Powell, Clay and Whitley counties.  In addition, the insect, which feeds on the hemlock’s needles and reproduces exponentially throughout the warm seasons, has the potential to spread rapidly.  As summer passes into fall and the temperature drops, the insect prepares itself for the winter season by producing small cocoons—resembling minute cotton balls—that protect it from the cold.  This white powdery appearance is a sure sign of infestation, and an infestation will kill the tree if it is not treated in a timely manner.  Many experts believe that the adverse effects from HWA could be as severe as the chestnut blight, and that we may lose our hemlocks just as we lost the American chestnut tree. 
  Native hemlocks provide aesthetic beauty, critical habitat for a variety of species, and perhaps most important, dense foliage that protects our streams from the sun's harsh rays.  Without this protection from the sun, oxygen levels in streams plummet and harm fish species, such as the federally endangered black sided dace.  The hemlocks' ability to shade streams also helps prevent undesirable, non-native plants from spreading in critical riparian areas.      If left untreated, the effects of HWA will leave a graveyard of trees that appear as standing skeletons on our streams and hillsides in as little as five to seven years from the time of initial infection.  Unfortunately, this has already occurred in the Smoky Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley.  Kentuckians, however, can help prevent a similar outcome by notifying forestry officials of infestations and by learning how to treat and prevent the spread of this destructive insect.  
The potential negative effect on tourism and recreation is another concern.  The disappearance of hemlocks will not only change the scenery and appeal of unique areas like the Red River Gorge and Pine Mountain, it will also create a safety hazard for outdoor recreation.  Infested trees will eventually die and topple onto trails and into streams where outdoor enthusiasts spend time hiking, fishing, canoeing and horseback riding.  Likewise, the effects will be evident in urban areas.  Hemlocks have been planted as landscape trees in city parks, on horse farms and in arboretums and their disappearance will forever change the aesthetics of those areas.
          
 For more information about how you can help protect our native hemlocks, visit the Save Kentucky’s Hemlocks Web site, www.kyhemlocks.org

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