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Adirondack Explorer

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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Hemlock danger understated

As a longtime fan of your magazine, I would like to comment on your recent report titled “Hemlock pest found in Park.” The article seemed to minimize the danger from the woolly adelgid, an invasive insect that has been killing hemlock forests elsewhere and was recently discovered near Lake George.

My wife and I have a summer place in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Our hemlocks are in great distress and are expected to be wiped out. I am having thirty-four beautiful old hemlocks on a one-acre plot sprayed this fall at a cost of over $4,000—a stopgap measure that will only temporarily halt the woolly adelgid’s onslaught.

In her recent book Witness Tree, Linda Maples writes: “The mortality of infested eastern hemlock can be 100%. There are no natural predators and the hemlocks show no signs yet of developing resistance. Already millions of hemlocks have been infested, from Georgia to southwestern Maine. … The insect is killed by deep cold, but it has been following warming winters ever northward. … The invasion of adelgid has made for the demise of a beloved native tree species not seen on this scale in New England since the losses of American chestnut and American elm.”

Your article quoted an expert who said it would take decades for the adelgid to wipe out large numbers of Adirondack hemlocks, giving scientists time to combat the pest. This seems like a combination of wishful thinking and extraordinary shortsightedness.

Bob Bradford, Charlotte, NC

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