Friday, September 7, 2012

Race Brook Hemlocks

Earlier this week I took a hike up the Race Brook Trail to scout the repair to the log bridge over the brook and check in at the campsite.  Shortly after leaving the trailhead on Rt 41, I was in the stately hemlocks along this trail and noticed that there was more sunlight reaching the forest floor than I had remembered from a couple of years ago.  My concerns were soon confirmed when I turned some low hemlock twigs over and found the white specs of wooly adelgids.  The US Forest Service says:

 Native to Asia, the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) is a small, aphidlike insect that threatens the health and sustainability of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana) in the Eastern United States. Hemlock woolly adelgid was first reported in the Eastern United States in 1951 near Richmond, Virginia. By 2005, it was established in portions of 16 States from Maine to Georgia, where infestations covered about half of the range of hemlock. Areas of extensive tree mortality and decline are found throughout the infested region, but the impact has been most severe in some areas of Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.
Here's a picture of what I found (sorry it's a little fuzzy, the best my camera could muster):
 I suspect the infestation started some years ago unnoticed and perhaps has come to light with the additional stressor of the drought we've experienced this year.  Some trees are already near skeleton trees:
We have alerted our partners at ATC and NPS of this situation.  As this infestation spreads and kills the large hemlocks in the area it will undoubtedly have impacts on the vegetation in the area.  This is the first sign of this pest on AT lands in Massachusetts that I am aware of. 

No comments:

Post a Comment