Arbor Day, traditionally celebrated in Georgia on the third Friday of February, is a day set aside to reflect on the importance of trees. They contribute to the beauty, privacy, and value of our individual properties and our neighborhoods; cover our mountains with lush forests, which support thousands of jobs related to tourism and recreation, and produce millions of dollars in revenue; provide food and habitat for many birds and animals, shade for native plants, and cool temperatures for trout streams; help maintain the biodiversity of the ecosystem and protect the air and water quality we depend on; and create special places that refresh our bodies and store our spirits.
But Arbor Day is more than a time for reflection. It’s also a time for action to save one of our most majestic and iconic evergreen trees. The hemlocks are being attacked and killed by the millions by a tiny invasive insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid, that was accidentally imported from Asia to the eastern U. S. more than 60 years ago and now infests the entire Appalachian chain.
The bad news – the massive loss of the hemlock would be a disaster on the scale of the American Chestnut.
The good news – property owners can treat and save as many of their own trees as they choose. It’s safe, easy enough for most people to do themselves, highly effective, and surprisingly economical, especially compared to the cost of losing the trees. And volunteers can help save the hemlocks on our national forests and state lands too.
If you want to learn how to help, please plan to attend a special training event on February 12 sponsored by the Bent Tree Forest Conservation Committee and presented by Save Georgia’s Hemlocks. For information/registration for this or any other class on our Schedule of Events page, call 706-429-8010 or email email@example.com.
Hemlocks Need Your Help!
North Georgia’s hemlocks are in danger of almost total extinction due to a rapidly spreading infestation of the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), an invasive insect from Asia with no local natural predator. Hemlock stands are of vital importance to wildlife, water and air quality, local economy, and basic quality of life, and their loss would create problems of enormous scope and dire consequences.
Property owners have the option to save as many of their own hemlocks as they desire, but focused efforts to raise awareness, promote action, and provide assistance have been extremely limited in most north Georgia counties. SAVE GEORGIA'S HEMLOCKS, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has implemented the Hemlock Help Program -- a statewide initiative of educational and charitable service -- to address this urgent need wherever hemlocks are threatened in Georgia.
HWA infestation has been confirmed in 19 counties -- the entire native range of the hemlock in north Georgia -- and reported in several more counties as far south as Atlanta. These magnificent trees need your help NOW.
Aesthetically, these beautiful trees contribute greatly to the enjoyment of those who live, work, and play among them, as well as the many people who come to north Georgia for tourism and recreation. What would your special places in the mountains look like without hemlocks?
Environmentally, hemlocks are a keystone species and play a unique role in providing food and habitat for about 120 species of vertebrates and more than 90 species of birds, shade for native plants, cool temperatures for trout streams, and protection for watersheds and water quality. How many environmental "dominoes" might fall if the hemlocks fall?
Economically, healthy mature trees such as hemlocks can add as much as 7-10% to property values, provide the net cooling effect of 10 room-sized air conditioners running 20 hours a day, perform millions of dollars worth of water purification per mature tree along our waterways, and save billions of dollars a year by filtering CO2 and other pollutants from the air as they produce oxygen for us to breathe. Can we afford to lose these valuable trees?
Hundreds of thousands of Georgia's hemlocks have already died due to the woolly adelgid, and millions more are infested. Because of our mild climate, the hemlock's decline here in the South is progressing more rapidly than many scientists originally predicted, with infested trees dying in as few as 3 to 6 years. The next two years may be the "tipping point" in which aggressive action can still make a difference.
Invitation to Help
Please join us. Your participation and support are much needed and very welcome! Check out the Schedule of Events to see a variety of opportunities to participate in educational events and volunteer service projects.
We also need and very much appreciate your financial support. Visit How You Can Help to learn how you can make a donation, become a member, or find your own special way to help.
On the Contacts page, you'll find names and contact information for:
■ Places to purchase HWA treatment products
■ Places to borrow a soil injector for free (just a refundable deposit)
■ Qualified, licensed hemlock treatment professionals in north Georgia
■ Places to purchase hemlock saplings
© Save Georgia's Hemlocks
2009. Last updated