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Adelgid Treatments Move to Kentucky

National Parks technician Rodney Martinez uses a ruler to calculate the amount of insecticide needed for a Kentucky tree that is infected by the hemlock woolly adelgid.

Park managers and maintenance contractors are ratcheting up treatments as the hemlock wooly adelgid expands its attack into Kentucky. Recently, a crew with Cumberland Gap National Historical Park used a soil-injection device to push forward with Imidacloprid applications.

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Rodney Martinez, a biological technician with the park, explained how the insecticide is absorbed into the needles of the tree, killing the adelgids when they come to feed.

Forestry interns Amanda Deeds, left, and Lindsay Nystrom inject the soil around a hemlock tree to combat the hemlock woolly adelgid in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Kentucky.

Timing Treatments

“Right now, our infestation is light, and the trees are not yet turning gray,” Martinez said. “Hopefully, we have several more years to get a head start before we reach a heavy infestation.”

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park’s first adelgids were spotted in November 2006 in the park’s remote northeastern section. Since then, other outbreaks have been documented near the town of Cumberland Gap, at the park’s southern tip, and along the Shillalah Creek Road, at the north central part of the park.

The adelgids are carried by the wind or on the feet of birds just after they hatch. Park officials knew an infestation would happen, since the adelgids recently had been spotted at Pine Mountain State Resort Park, just 10 miles north of Cumberland Gap.

Federal Funding

So far, Cumberland Gap has obtained most of its funding and equipment for fighting the hemlock woolly adelgid from the U.S. Forest Service. Unlike the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which has waged an aggressive campaign against the adelgids since 2002 with substantial help from Friends of the Smokies, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park does not have a Friends group.

The park has requested funding in 2009 from the National Park Service to help fight the hemlock woolly adelgid.

Martinez said Cumberland Gap is concentrating its chemical treatments on hemlocks in high-use areas like parking lots and campgrounds.

Another top priority is the Sugar Run Trail, located on the Kentucky side of Cumberland Mountain, where over the last several months, vegetation crews have treated almost 1,000 hemlocks with an insecticide applied to the soil.

Source: Knoxville (Tenn.) News

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June 16, 2019, 10:31 pm PDT

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