Fall Creek Falls State Park boasts the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains and majestic gorge and forest vistas. However, the park’s rugged beauty is threatened by an invasive insect that is killing hemlock trees found throughout the park and in view of the waterfall. A free workshop is scheduled for Saturday, October 12 to help private landowners learn about the threat of hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) and gain skills needed to chemically treat and preserve their own hemlocks.
“Hemlocks at Fall Creek play a vital role in the beauty for our visitors,” said Cara Alexander, park ranger at Fall Creek Falls State Park. “We are happy that we can engage the public with our efforts to save hemlocks as well as give them tools to save hemlocks on their own property.”
Native to Asia but now living in the eastern U.S., hemlock woolly adelgid is a small aphid-like insect that feeds at the base of hemlock needles and can kill hemlocks in as few as three years.
Hemlocks are slow-growing, long-lived evergreens that provide dense shade that keeps forests and streams cool throughout much of eastern Tennessee, provide important fish and wildlife habitat, and contribute to the state’s scenic beauty. It has been estimated that loss of hemlocks from private property can decrease property value by up to 20%, not to mention the cost of removal of large dead trees. Since its detection in Tennessee in 2002, HWA has spread to 36 counties in East Tennessee and the Cumberland Plateau, including Bledsoe County.
Private land conservation of hemlocks in Tennessee is important to ensuring preservation of Tennessee’s hemlock forests. In the Cumberland Plateau and Mountains, the Tennessee Hemlock Conservation Partnership estimates that there are 67,620 acres of forest with a substantial hemlock component on private lands. On public lands, the partnership estimates there are 78,849 acres of forest with substantial hemlock component. The Tennessee Hemlock Conservation Partnership encompasses staff from Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry, the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy. The group is also receiving technical assistance from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and the U.S. Forest Service.
“To date in Tennessee, our partnership is in the process of completing treatments on 2,000 acres with chemical and biological controls for hemlock woolly adelgid. Our partnership continues to be hopeful that we can provide the assistance that is needed for private landowners to chemically treat and save their hemlocks until a long-term control is established,” said Douglas Godbee, Forest Health Forester with Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry.
The workshop is open to anyone interested and will be held on October 12 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CDT in the Conference Room at the Fall Creek Falls Inn. During the workshop, the group will treat and save hemlocks at Fall Creek Falls as well. Specific topics to be covered are: how to identify HWA, steps to protect your hemlock trees, how to treat HWA and how much the chemical costs, where to buy the chemical for treatment, and participation in HWA treatment project gaining hands-on experience treating a hemlock tree.
Staff from Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry will be leading the workshop. Partners from Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, The Nature Conservancy, and the National Park Service will also be in attendance. The workshop will qualify attendees for pesticide points and Continuing Forestry Education (CFE) points, all generally needed by government employees and environmental professionals.
Please register for the workshop by October 9 by contacting Douglas Godbee with Tennessee Division of Forestry: (865) 318-1371 or Douglas.Godbee@tn.gov.
The group will take a break to eat lunch. Please bring your own or plan to eat at the park restaurant’s buffet. Please bring water, wear long pants, bring a long sleeved shirt and wear close-toed shoes with socks. All other equipment and supplies will be provided.
More information can be found on The Nature Conservancy website.