Photo by Charles Seifreid Alabama’s Eastern hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis) are in danger of extinction if we do not prevent the spread of the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). The HWA is an invasive insect with no local natural predator in North America. It has been reported in east Alabama. To protect one of the last remaining uneffected hemlock populations in the eastern U. S., the Bankhead District of the United States Forest Service invited Wild Alabama to partner with them to monitor for the adelgid. Wild Alabama has developed a community science project that engages schools, scout groups and individual volunteers. Early detection of the insect is key. That’s where you come in! What you can do: 1. Humans can unintentionally transport the adelgid. Whenever you have visited an area where there is infestation of the hemlock woolly adelgid, be sure to clean backpacks, camping gear, shoes, clothing and vehicles before walking or driving into the Bankhead National Forest or Sipsey Wilderness or any private or other public land where hemlock trees exist.
2. We have a hemlock monitoring plan! Participants will be matched with an appropriate site in the Bankhead National Forest and will monitor that site for the presence of the hemlock woolly adelgid at least once a year. In addition to visual monitoring, a study site may be established. Click here for information on monitoring and setting up a study site. A great opportunity for school field trips and Scout projects!
3. Spread the word! Do you know a classroom teacher or scout group who might be interested in an educational project related to hemlocks? Do you know an organization that would like for someone to come and speak? Let us know.
4. Help us find out where the hemlock trees are in Alabama so that we can better monitor them. Get the iNaturalist app. When you take a photo of a hemlock in Alabama and upload it to the app, it will add that tree to our ongoing map. The iNaturalist app is also very useful for identifying those mystery plants, bugs and animals that you see sometimes when you are outdoors. If you don't have service on the trail, you can snap a picture to upload later. There is also a web version of this tool: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/save-the-alabama-hemlocks
5. If you own land with eastern hemlocks, contact us to learn what you can do to protect your trees.