The Tsuga Search

Quest for the towering giants

A project dedicated to documenting and preserving the eastern hemlock


Proposed by: Will Blozan and Jess Riddle
Research associates, Eastern Native Tree Society

 Project consultants:

Dr. Robert Van Pelt, University of Washington , Seattle
Dr. Lee Frelich , University of Minnesota , St. Paul


Under the guidance of The Eastern Native Tree Society (ENTS) we propose a project to locate, measure, document, and chemically treat exceptionally large eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) trees in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM). The threat from hemlock woolly adelgid to decimate the finest remaining hemlock groves served as the impetus for this project. American chestnut (Castanea dentata) and Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) were both devastated by introduced diseases prior to collection of substantial ecological data, but the opportunity remains to avoid this fate with hemlock and save exemplary stands. The data collected from the stands in this project can serve as the basis for future restoration efforts, and the stands will furthermore establish a living legacy of a vanished species for future generations to enjoy. We will begin by locating exceptionally large hemlock trees and taking preliminary measurements in the late fall and winter of 2005. Searches will focus on the Cataloochee and Greenbrier districts. The fifteen largest and fifteen tallest trees will be chemically treated to control hemlock woolly adelgid, and when present, surrounding hemlocks will be treated as well. The preservation of groves will be accomplished with soil and stem injections of imidacloprid. The largest and tallest trees will be climbed, measured in detail, and modeled for total displacement volume. The surrounding groves will be surveyed for various environmental parameters that may indicate or predict superlative growing conditions. Additional canopy collections for taxonomic populations are possible[LEF1] . The resulting information will be compiled and organized into a database, a comprehensive report, and potentially a book complete with descriptions of individual trees, accounts of their discoveries, in-canopy photographs, and anatomically accurate artistic renderings. Although our focus will be on the giants, we want to emphasize that we are proposing more than a sophisticated big tree hunt. This point in time is the last opportunity to obtain historical documentation of individual trees and gather data on these extraordinary hemlock forests while they remain in a state of reasonable health. We emphasize that this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Most of the giant hemlocks will probably die within five years. Hence, we now have the opportunity to forever put the great eastern hemlock forests into the historical record and bolster the case for preserving as much as we can. Time is a major issue because, quite simply, the hemlocks cannot wait.

 [LEF1]Its not clear what a taxonomic population is. Remember that the abstract has to stand on its own. You shouldn’t have to read anything in the text to understand anything in the abstract.