Park saves hemlocks

| 29 Sep 2011 | 10:24

    BUSHKILL - Superintendent John J. Donahue has announced that the park has launched a forest stabilization and restoration project at Raymondskill Falls in the park’s Pennsylvania District. The goals is protecting eastern hemlocks, the Pennsylvania state tree, from further destruction by hemlock woolly adelgid and of fostering the growth of native vegetation in case efforts to protect the hemlocks are not successful. Hemlocks here and elsewhere in the park have been infected by adelgids, a very small, aphid-like insect native to Japan. HWA was first reported in the east in the mid-1950s and has since spread throughout the area. Many hemlocks have since died or are dying; many others have suffered serious defoliation. Eastern hemlock is an important part of the forest canopy and is found in 141 discrete stands covering about 3,000 acres of the park, many of them designated as “outstanding natural features,” with high intrinsic or unique values. Many scenic waterfalls are associated with hemlock stands, and a number of recreational activities; hiking, trout-fishing, and bird-watching are concentrated in these areas. The project area covers roughly six acres. Part of the area, about two-and-a-quarter acres, is surrounded by an eight-foot-high fence in order to protect tree seedlings and saplings from deer browsing. The project objectives are to remove exotic, non-native plants, foster regeneration of hemlocks and other native plants, and to minimize erosion. The park will issue periodic reports on the status of the project.