New Video Showcases Crisis Facing Catskills’ Majestic Hemlock Trees, and How Hikers and Residents Can Protect the Forest

MEDIA RELEASE

June 13, 2018

The Invasive Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Threatens Catskills’ Keystone Species. Without the Hemlock, Catskills forests, streams, and wildlife will suffer

Livingston Manor, NY – Catskill Mountainkeeper has released a new video highlighting the plight of the hemlock tree—the keystone forest species in the Catskills—as an invasive insect called the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) ravages the trees, sucking the life out of the hemlocks and causing them to die prematurely.

The video, which features vivid drone footage of the Catskills forests and interviews with HWA experts Mark Whitmore, a Forest Entomologist at Cornell University, and Vern Rist a Plant Pathologist and owner of Healthy Plants, Consultation & Service, helps viewers understand what the HWA is and how it kills the hemlocks. The six-minute film details the destruction the HWA can do while also discussing a solution— the introduction of beneficial predators—which scientists are using to fight the HWA. It closes with a call to action for people to become citizen scientists and join with researchers in collecting data about infestations that help determine hot spot locations where we can fight this voracious bug.

The HWA is an aphid-like insect from Japan that attaches itself to twigs near the base of hemlock needles—where it is hard to see—and feeds on the tree’s sap. As a result, the tree loses strength, and eventually dies. Left unchecked, an adelgid infestation can kill a mighty hemlock tree in as little as four years.

“Without strong action to combat this infestation, the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid will suck the life out of the Catskills forest, changing everything from the types of trees that can grow and animals that can thrive here, to the temperature of our trout streams, threatening our world-class fisheries” said Ramsay Adams, Catskill Mountainkeeper’s Executive Director. “We need to stop the adelgid now. That’s why Mountainkeeper is so pleased to present this informational video, and we encourage everyone to watch, share, and repost. The more people who know about the problem and become active in the solution, the more likely we are to save our forest.”

“We’re fighting the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid by researching its natural biocontrols and introducing a fly and a beetle from the Pacific Northwest that only eat HWA,” said Mark Whitmore, Forest Entomologist at Cornell University. “When people become citizen scientists and share their observations of infestations, we’re able to use that information to know where we should focus our work.”

The NYS Hemlock Initiative at Cornell University leads the biocontrol research around beneficial predators, with funding from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

“Hemlocks provide unexcelled beauty year round and contribute ecologically in unique and profound ways,” said Vern Rist of a Plant Pathologist and owner of Healthy Plants, Consultation & Service. “Their cooling nature helps create an environment favorable to many other species. Beneath a stand of these noble trees is a special place to find yourself. The Catskills wouldn’t be the same without them.”

Catskill Mountainkeeper will be rolling out the video on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and invites all media outlets, organizations, and individuals to share the video with their networks. The video, directed by Kate Hagerman and produced by Angel Gates Productions, can be viewed at the Catskill Mountainkeeper website : www.catskillmountainkeeper.org/fightthehemlockwoollyadelgid

Contact Ramsay Adams at ramsay@catskillmountainkeeper.org for the downloadable MP4 video file.

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