Nature Conservancy, Agencies Join Forces to Combat Hemlock Threat

November Meeting Part of Statewide Effort

October 27, 2011

At Fiery Gizzard trail in South Cumberland State Park, there are towering hemlock trees that are well over 200 years old. In fact, one huge specimen near the northern trailhead is estimated to be more than 500 years old. Hemlocks are slow-growing, long-lived evergreens that provide dense shade that keeps forests and streams cool throughout much of eastern Tennessee, especially in the Smokies and on the Cumberland Plateau.

“Think about some of your favorite parks on the Cumberland Plateau or the Smokies,” says Trish Johnson with The Nature Conservancy. “Without hemlocks, those parks would not be the shady places you love. And the animal species that depend on them would not be there either.”

Hemlocks in Tennessee are under attack by an invasive insect known as the hemlock woolly adelgid. Native to Asia but now living in the eastern U.S., hemlock woolly adelgid is a small aphid-like insect that feeds at the base of hemlock needles and can kill hemlocks in as few as three years.

To combat this emerging threat in Tennessee, The Nature Conservancy and a number of state and federal agencies are joining forces to share the latest science and treatment techniques. On November 1 and 2, there will be a workshop at Fall Creek Falls State Park for staff from Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry, and featuring presentations and contributions from all these organizations, plus The Nature Conservancy, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service. More than 45 professionals from these agencies as well as professional forestry consultants are expected to attend.

This workshop is a pivotal step in beginning treatment for many of the state’s public lands. The workshop will cover treatment options, lessons learned from previous treatments of hemlocks in the Smoky Mountains, funding for treatment and actual field demonstrations of treatments for hemlocks. In addition, there will be discussion of a newly developed map of hemlock locations throughout the Cumberland Plateau and Mountains. Funded by The Nature Conservancy, it has been created based on high-definition satellite imagery and is part of a plan by state and federal agencies to systematically target key hemlock stands for treatment.

For more information about the hemlock woolly adelgid workshop at Fall Creek Falls, please contact Trish Johnson with The Nature Conservancy: 931-854-1552 or

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Paul Kingsbury
Communications Manager
2021 21st Avenue South
Suite C-400
Nashville, TN 37212
(615) 383-9909 phone
(615) 383-9717 fax

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