Cataloochee Death Photos   Will Blozan
  Nov 1, 2007

TOPIC: Cataloochee HWA death photo

== 1 of 4 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 1 2007 9:02 am
From: "Will Blozan"


Here are some aerial photos taken yesterday, HALLOWEEN, in Cataloochee, NC
GRSM. Scary, huh?

Needless to say, as a dominant species, hemlock has been eradicated.


TOPIC: Hemlock documentary

== 1 of 2 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 1 2007 3:10 pm
From: "Will Blozan"

ENTS and others,

In conjunction with Back 40 Films in Charlotte, NC, I have embarked on
filming a documentary about the impacts of hemlock woolly adelgid in the
southern Appalachians. The intent is to illustrate the deadly seriousness of
the pest, what has been done well and not so well, and what land managers in
other states can do to prepare for and manage their hemlock resources. I
won't go into my passion for the species and topic as that is obvious.
Getting the word out and spurring responsible folks into action will be the
sole salvation of representative stands of hemlock. We have lost the "best"
of the hemlocks in the Smokies, which I feel can safely be extrapolated to
the world's population of Tsuga canadensis, but this fate does not have to
be the same for those trees outside of the current range of HWA. This is the
message we want to present. Some stills from the shoot so far can be seen at
this link: 

Just go to the gallery section and select photos from "The Vanishing
Hemlock". This is a working title, and non-profit status for funding the
film is pending. A fund raising campaign is about to commence as well as
more days of shooting and interviews.

More to come, but that is the gist of the story.


TOPIC: Cataloochee HWA death photo

== 1 of 4 ==
Date: Sat, Nov 3 2007 12:24 pm
From: "Mike Leonard"

Nice shots Will. Aerial photos like these are the best ways to show the
dramatic impact of HWA.
So what now for these skeletonized forests? Would underplanting with
shade tolerant conifers (Norway spruce) help to restore some of the
ecosystem functions that hemlock provided? - Mike

== 2 of 4 ==
Date: Sat, Nov 3 2007 1:34 pm

I recently went back to McKee branch in Cataloochee after only a
couple of years, and what had been fairly healthy though infested
hemlock forest looked just like these photos. Maybe one of those
photos is of McKee, it's hard to tell...
Very sad.

== 3 of 4 ==
Date: Sat, Nov 3 2007 2:38 pm
From: Josh


I would much rather see natural regen on public lands, especially
national parks like the smokies. Studying how these places respond to
disturbances (see Frelich and Reich on old-growth) is perhaps the most
salient research that can be done in areas of primary hemlock forest.
I think that the loss of year round shade that hemlock provided will
be devastating though, and perhaps there is a place for red spruce
planting as a surogate.


== 4 of 4 ==
Date: Sat, Nov 3 2007 3:36 pm
From: JamesRobertSmith

That's truly hideous. Of course the whole area around Joyce Kilmer has
looked like that for quite a while. It's horrifying to witness the
total destruction of the hemlock ecosystem. Now we can just wait and
watch to see what happens next. What's going to fill in the forest in
the place of the hemlocks? How is it going to effect the animals who
had been dependent on them? What's going to grow in the creekside
locations where hemlocks were dominant?

Good grief, it is so depressing to see those photographs.

TOPIC: Cataloochee HWA death photo

== 1 of 6 ==
Date: Mon, Nov 5 2007 5:33 am
From: "Joseph Zorzin"

Why any particular species is growing in any particular place is a combination of microenvironment, land use history and luck. The one classic niche for hemlock is stream gorges due to cold air and low light- since the species is tolerant to both. When the trees die- almost any species common in the area could replace them depending on local conditions- most likely, if the opening in the canopy is small, it's likely that yellow birch or beech (both very shade tolerant) will come in. With large openings, almost anything is possible.

Regarding replacement species- the only ones that should be looked at are ones that fill that unique hemlock niche, stream gorges- but it's unlikely that an introduced species could compete with native species. Few if any tree species have "escaped". I wish that Norway Spruce would "get away" as I like it.

One thing that foresters are supposed to get a sense of- but it takes years to do- is answer the following question, "what will happen to the forest if I do the following silvicultural treatment .....". So we should be able to predict this sort of thing given local conditions.

My bet is that the HWA will not spread to the entire range of the species- and that eventually the HWA itself will decline- and hemlock will make a comeback in areas where it "lost ground". Speeding up this process may necessitate heavy thinning of hemlock stands leaving the trees that show resistance.


Sent: Sunday, November 04, 2007 10:58 PM
Subject: [ENTS] Re: Cataloochee HWA death photo


Has anyone organized a project to monitor the decay of the hemlock skeleton
forests and see what trees grow and what other species proliferate to
repopulate the understory and canopy of these lost hemlock forests? I think
it would be a worthwhile project to monitor what is happening naturally in
areas that are not replanted artificially.

Ed Frank

== 2 of 6 ==
Date: Mon, Nov 5 2007 5:33 am
From: "Will Blozan"


I know of no formal studies but I am sure something will be done. However,
it will likely not be by NPS personnel. If so, I will be shocked. I read a
paper that predicted the change but don't know of specific plans now that
HWA has done its deed.

The NPS has elk, deer, hog, and trout exclosures to study the effects of
these creatures on the ecosystems. I wonder why they don't have an HWA
exclosure for the same purpose? Too late now.


== 3 of 4 ==
Date: Tues, Nov 6 2007 2:56 am
From: "Mike Leonard"


There are ongoing studies at Harvard Forest:

In the North Quabbin, hardwoods like black birch, red maple, and some
red oak would regenerate.


== 5 of 6 ==
Date: Mon, Nov 5 2007 6:46 am
From: "Will Blozan"

I'd love to. A world-wide Tsuga Search!


TOPIC: Cataloochee HWA death photo

== 1 of 2 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 7:10 pm
From: Chuck

In Citico Creek Wilderness many of the large hemlocks are still alive,
but just barely. And yes, many have already died. But one thing I
notice is that there are still many small living hemlocks in the
understory. I wonder if that is the case in Catalooche. If so then
maybe some of the remaining small ones could be treated. What do you


== 2 of 2 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 8 2007 7:24 pm
From: Chuck

Someone was talking about thinning the hemlocks to prevent HWA
spread. This is really easy to do: You just pick the ones you want
to keep, treat those and then stand back and watch. The HWA will thin
out the rest. Kind of sick humor. But I know what you meant. But
driving around on the Cherohala Skyway you will find areas where there
are isolated single trees or small groups and they are just as dead as
the ones in the big stands.


TOPIC: Cataloochee HWA death photo

== 1 of 3 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 6:21 am
From: "Will Blozan"

Good observation!

Yes, I have thought for a while that the understory may be the key to
restoring these hemlock forests, provided they survive the carnage of
falling debris. By the time they grow to reproductive age the HWA should be
long gone. All the ~100% canopy killed areas I have seen have living and
salvageable saplings in the understory. At this point they are just serving
a HWA reservoirs.

The treatment costs to save the trees would be minimal, and would entirely
eliminate the need for underplanting a new forest. And yes, I have suggested
this to the Park Service.

The main concern is that the growth rates of the surrounding birch,
tuliptree, lianas etc. would far exceed that of the hemlocks and they may be
instantly returned to a suppressed (non-reproductive) status.


== 2 of 3 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 8:41 am
From: Larry

Will, Have you had time do figure out how many acres of forest is
affected by HWA? How can we as members of ENTS help you? Larry

== 3 of 3 ==
Date: Fri, Nov 9 2007 8:55 am
From: "Will Blozan"


I don't know how many acres are affected and I don't really see a need to
know. My mission now is to spread the word about this pest, how serious it
is and what can be done. The documentary film project seems to be the
fastest and widest reaching way to do this. Personally, I think National
Geographic should do an article on HWA, as that would reach millions of
people. Then, a piece on NG Explorer of Discovery channel would do wonders
to educate.

I am not sure how ENTS can help. As an unfunded, informal group we have no
real monetary resources but we do have lots of contacts. Spread the word!


TOPIC: Cataloochee HWA death photo

== 1 of 2 ==
Date: Sun, Nov 11 2007 5:49 am
From: Michael Davie

I'm wondering what it was like to fly over the park like that? Other
than the depressing part of seeing vast hemlock forests dead, I know
years ago we had talked about how interesting it would be to fly over
and see places from the air. Did you get any particular impressions
from above, or see places that looked interesting that you had not
been? Did you happen to pass over Sag Branch and see the tuliptree,
for example, or were you able to figure out where you were very
easily? Maybe you had to quickly get in and film and get out, but I'm
curious if you were able to get new insight from a new perpective.

== 2 of 2 ==
Date: Sun, Nov 11 2007 7:18 am
From: "Will Blozan"


Due to weight and space restrictions I was unable to fly on the Cataloochee
overflight. I was really bummed but was able to put together the flight
lines for the shot. I have not yet seen the raw footage yet but am excited
to do so. It will offer some great insight I'm sure. If I can get the raw
footage compressed small enough to put on DVD I'd be glad to give you a
copy. I think the NPS should get it as well.

As I imagine you would be as well, I envision myself as a kid in a candy
store in the cockpit of that helicopter- wanting to see everything and look
for those trees we have known so long. The flight would have been entirely
too short!


TOPIC: Cataloochee HWA death photo

== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Thurs, Nov 15 2007 10:17 pm


I've been closely following the developments in the HWA wars, and it's so depressing and sad I can barely look at the pictures or read the text. When I went to the Smokies in September, it was very sickening, seeing all the dead hemlocks, and knowing that it wasn't like that only a few years ago... that being said, and hoping this isn't off-subject, is there any recent good news at all regarding the progress of battling the adelgid? Are the trees at Jim Branch and other treated groves still doing well? What can I do to help bring the tragic story of HWA to the largely unaware public (at least locally) to increase support for battling this dreaded scourge of the Eastern forest? What chance do the hemlocks in the Sipsey Wilderness stand at surviving or evading the infestation? I sincerely hope that there will soon be a major breakthrough in the battle against HWA, finally turning the tide to the good guys' side (yeah, that rhymes) ... although that hope is a largely forlorn one, ther
e is always a sliver of a chance that it could happen... and that's a hope worth holding on to.

~ Zac