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Volunteers needed to stem tide of arboreal invaders

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Wed, Jan 15th 2020 07:00 am

Erie County Parks, partners to host education event focused on Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

HWA, an invasive aphid-like insect, attacks Eastern Hemlock trees; volunteers will learn to survey for and identify them to slow their spread

The Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, in conjunction with WNY PRISM, the Cornell University Cooperative Extension, and the NYS Hemlock Initiative is presenting a free public event focusing on the hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive aphid-like forest pest that is currently spreading in Western New York forests. The spread of HWA threatens the Eastern Hemlock, an important tree species that is a critical part of forest ecosystems, provides stream habitat for trout species and creates habitat for numerous other plant and animal species.

“Invasive species like HWA pose a serious and ongoing threat to the health of our forests and, as Erie County has over 10,000 acres of parkland, we need to act to protect these natural spaces,” Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Troy P. Schinzel said. “Hemlocks are a vital part of our tree inventory and are considered a foundation species, so the loss of them would deal a serious blow to our parks. I am looking forward to working with our partners and the public on this educational outreach effort, collaborating to preserve our hemlocks and slow the advance of HWA.”

Volunteers are need for the HWA survey effort. The educational event will take place at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Chestnut Ridge Park Commissioner’s Cabin. It will cover HWA biology, identification and management, as well as an outdoor HWA survey training. (In the event of inclement weather, the event will be held Sunday, Feb. 9).

Attendees will also learn how to use the NYiMapInvasives app to report infestations.

Participants are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather conditions and wear warm, sturdy footwear.

Pre-registration is encouraged at www.erie.cce.cornell.edu/events. For more information, contact WNY PRISM at [email protected] or call 716-878-4708. For additional details on the Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, visit http://www2.erie.gov/parks/.

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