Hemlock Restoration Initiative hosts upcoming hemlock management workshops

Courtesy of Thom Green
Special to Black Mountain News

Hemlock trees in Western North Carolina are an important and irreplaceable component of our forest ecosystems.  These trees have been suffering for over two decades from the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), an invasive insect pest that can kill the tree in as little as four years.

Workshop participants measure a hemlock tree diameter.

However, there is good news for landowners with hemlocks on their property.  In the past, chemical treatment has been expensive and usually done by professionals, but new methods are now available that can be done inexpensively by landowners themselves.

To introduce landowners and land managers to the various options available to protect their hemlocks, the Hemlock Restoration Initiative is hosting a series of training workshops throughout February, March, and April around western North Carolina. 

The workshops will consist of classroom-style presentations and in-the-field practice to give participants the tools to make informed decisions about managing their hemlocks. A presentation will provide background and context for the field portion of the training, emphasizing the ecological importance and value of hemlocks in urban and community forests, the biology of HWA and other hemlock pests, and integrated pest management strategies.

We will use the trees present at the workshop site to learn and practice a variety of methods to treat hemlocks available to all landowners in North Carolina. With hands-on practice and additional time in the classroom, we will cover the details of chemical treatment, including how to identify hemlock trees; assess tree health and infestation severity; select, mix, and safely apply products; as well as when to seek help from a tree care professional.

The following workshops are currently scheduled:

  • Feb. 7 and  8: Christmount Conference Center, Black Mountain.
  • Feb. 22: North River Farms, Mills Rive.
  • March 20 and 21: North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville.
  • April 3 and 4: McDowell Technical Community College, Marion.

For two-day workshops, the Friday evening session goes from 6-8 p.m. Saturday sessions are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the exception of the Arboretum workshop on March 21, which goes from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Christmount and Arboretum workshops will offer an optional session on Friday from 1-4 p.m. that will cover biological control of HWA, including past and current efforts to integrate biocontrol in Buncombe County and beyond, and how participants can monitor for the presence of HWA-predators on their property.

For the two-day workshops, the Friday evening presentation is required for workshop participants but is also open to the general public without paid registration. If you would like to attend just the evening portion and not the entire workshop, please RSVP by phone or email at the contact information below.

Register by visiting SaveHemlocksNC.org/registration or calling 828-252-4783.  Registration deadline is two weeks prior to each workshop. Registration is $10. Lunch will be provided. NC Pesticide Applicator credits and ISA member CEUS are available. Please call our office or email info@savehemlocksnc.org with questions.

These workshops are presented by the Hemlock Restoration Initiative, which is sponsored by the NC Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services and the USDA Forest Service and managed by WNC Communities, an organization focused on supporting community development and agriculture initiatives across Western North Carolina. For more information visit SaveHemlocksNC.org.

Funding for this project was provided in part through an Urban & Community Forestry Grant from the North Carolina Forest Service, Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services, in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service, Southern Region.