If you’ve ever hiked through the forests of Northern Georgia, you know the Eastern Hemlocks. They are large, graceful trees with gently drooping branches providing dense shade and incredible beauty. Hemlocks contribute to the health of the entire ecosystem. They are slow growing and long lived, more shade tolerant than any other tree, and can grow in moist, acidic, high-elevation areas where few other trees can thrive. The shade they create buffers the temperature of streams, the shelter they provide is habitat for many wildlife and bird species, and their mighty roots prevent land erosion.
But our hemlocks are dying. The non-native hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is a parasitic insect killing the hemlock trees of Appalachia at an alarming rate. The U.S. Forest Service estimates that HWA has already killed millions of hemlocks across their native range, and it continues its devastating march in North Georgia.
HemlockFest proceeds aid efforts to minimize the impact of HWA in Georgia. HemlockFest is a major supporter of predator beetle rearing labs at area colleges and universities. The effort to introduce predator beetles, which feed on HWA and are a safe and effective biological control, may help to save our forests and preserve our quality-of-life.
Since 2016, HemlockFest also supports local efforts to bring back a mighty giant of the Appalachian forest – the American Chestnut tree. A century ago these trees were the dominant hardwood tree here, but were almost completely wiped out by an invasive fungal blight. The American Chestnut Foundation has made progress in developing a blight-resistant tree, and reintroduction is beginning.
Find out more about the hemlock crisis and how you can help save this remarkable tree species by visiting www.LumpkinCoalition.org.
Learn more about American Chestnut efforts by visiting https://www.acf.org/ga/.
So they may live…
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