It’s not looking good for my state tree.

The wooly adelgid was found in the United States sometime in the early 1950's. Colder winters had slowed their progress but in recent years they have spread to cover almost the entire native range of the eastern hemlock.

I’m sure this map has changed a bit in the last few years.

Where there was once densely packed trees providing shade for animals and the fish in the streams in even the harshest sun, there now stand only a few.

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Recent winter storms wreaked havoc and toppled many of these giants.

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In this one you can see the trees along the right hand side of the stream are mostly still standing. The left side almost bare.

I started taking some video once I realized how bad the damage was. You do get a lot better sense of the damage from the video.

The loss of a beautiful landscape is the least of worries. The longterm damage to the ecosystem is what matters. No longer will they provide shade and shelter to the animals that need it to thrive. No longer will their roots hold together the stream banks and mountain sides.

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The insect itself can be killed, but the trees need to be treated individually and repeatedly. The various park services just don’t have the resources to protect all of them. Complete control is an insurmountable task and a losing battle.

The ecosystem will change and adapt. It is unlikely the hemlock will continue to thrive unless it too can adapt.

Taken just a few miles down the road within the same park system, this is what these forests looked like just a year ago:

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I’m afraid to go back and see what it is like now. I’m sure there have been a few more victims.

Remainder of photos:

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