The eastern hemlock, Pennsylvania’s state tree, is disappearing in many areas of the state because of the increasingly prevalent woolly adelgid, an aphid-like insect that feeds exclusively on hemlocks and can kill a tree within four to 15 years, according to the Pine Creek Watershed Council.
The council is taking a proactive approach to head off future potential loss in Tioga County and other areas in the watershed.
“Hemlocks are a foundation species, meaning they serve as the foundation for an entire ecological community,” said Jim Weaver, who on behalf of the council, is applying for a grant to plant supplemental hemlocks in locations designated by the Headwater Hemlock Plan.
The plan will determine priority planting locations based on a variety of parameters, including, stream classification, infestation, stand characteristics and location characteristics, Weaver said.
The plantings are on both public and private lands within the watershed.
In addition to impacting streams and aquatic species that attract fish by a loss of natural cooling provided by the trees, hemlock loss would impact the local economy. For example, tourism includes fishing, hunting, biking, camping and scenic viewing.
“Not only is the loss of the aesthetic value of our area a threat to tourism, an increase in ambient temperatures due to climate-related impacts will affect the quality of the aquatic resources in the region,” he added.
Weaver will speak about the status of the project at the Trout Unlimited Tiadaghton Chapter 688 meeting Tuesday, May 1, at 7 p.m. in the Wellsboro Community Center. The meeting is open to the public.
For more information, visit www.dcnr.pa.gov.