May 09, 2014
Public asked to look for signs of infestation on public and private lands
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) today announced that the presence of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), an invasive species that kills hemlock trees, has been confirmed in Allegany State Park in Cattaraugus County.
"Thanks to an early detection of this insect by park volunteers, State Parks has taken immediate action to eliminate the detected HWA populations, and step up efforts to search for additional infestations within the park," State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. "We are hopeful these efforts will limit further spread of HWA in Allegany State Park and neighboring property."
The HWA was found by trained citizen scientist volunteers at two locations while performing area searches within the park. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets recently confirmed the volunteers' discovery.
Acting State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Based on previous losses of hemlock trees in the Hudson Valley Region and Long Island, we understand how vital early detection of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is in protecting these resources within the majestic State Parks system. The Department of Agriculture and Markets will work with our state partners to further identify these threats to ensure the continued health of hemlock trees across the state."
DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said, "New York's hemlock forests are critical for the preservation of clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat and many other desired attributes, and the HWA threatens them all. DEC continues to monitor for the presence of this major pest on private and public lands throughout the state as we build better tools for its detection and the conservation of our highly valued hemlock forests. We appreciate the efforts of our Parks partners in this and their many other discoveries of invasive forest pests."
Allegany State Park contains large ecologically important hemlock stands and documented old growth hemlock communities. This aphid-like insect kills hemlocks by attaching its mouthparts to the underside of the needles and sucking the nutrients from the tree, and poses a significant threat to all of the hemlocks in the region.
State Parks recommends people become familiar with the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid and be on the look-out for signs on any hemlocks on public and private lands. According to the New York Invasive Species Clearinghouse, HWA are most easily recognized by the white "woolly" masses of wax, about half the size of a cotton swab, produced by females in late winter. These fuzzy white masses are readily visible at the base of hemlock needles attached to twigs and persist throughout the year, even long after the adults are dead. Additional information on HWA is available at NY Invasive Species Clearinghouse.
State Parks welcomes volunteers to assist in forest pest surveys to detect HWA and other invasive species. More volunteers are especially needed to cover the large amount of terrain containing hemlocks in the 66,000-acre Allegany State Park, the largest park operated by State Parks. Anyone interested in training or having questions should contact the NY OPRHP Environmental Management Bureau's Invasive Species Team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.