Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hope for Our Beloved Hemlocks

For several years, we have been quietly experiencing a devastating loss in our Southern Appalachian Forests. The Eastern Hemlock has been slowly destroyed by the woolly adelgid, a imported predator insect from Japan, first noticed in Richmond, Va. in 1951.

Only in the past decade have I noticed massive losses of the trees that provide dark, cool environments even during the heat of summer to promote healthy streams that provide habitat for native brook trout. The brook trout are still here but the water temperature of our mountain streams is rising.

In today's Roanoke Times, I was particularly pleased to find the story of a Virginia Tech research team working to stop destruction of Appalachia’s iconic hemlock trees unleashed a new microscopic weapon in the fight against the tree-killing woolly adelgid.

According to the Roanoke Times story, "Tech entomology professor Scott Salom and graduate student Katlin Mooneyham seeded infested hemlocks on private property near Mountain Lake in Giles County with about 1,000 laboratory-grown eggs of the Laricobius osakensis, a newly discovered beetle species from Osaka, Japan, that preys almost exclusively on the woolly adelgid."

Pursuant to a recent commitment to change the course of this blog, I want to share this news with my neighbors that share my deep love for our "Garden of Eden" natural environment in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. I pray that we will see the return of our majestic hemlocks that have provided storybook setting for our lives for generations.