The South Carolina Forestry Commission is going on the offensive to protect some of the Upstate’s most important and vulnerable tree species.
In the coming months, crews will be aggressively treating Carolina hemlocks and Eastern hemlocks against a pest known as the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. Forest Protection Chief Darryl Jones says a $178,000 stimulus grant will pay for the efforts to protect the hemlocks from the tiny, but deadly insect. Jones says the grant money will be used to pay for the recruiting, training, and the equipping of a team of six “foot soldiers” who will apply chemical soil injections around the roots of the threatened trees.
Jones says the work will occur only on state-owned lands in Oconee, Pickens, and Greenville counties and will benefit trees which are growing up to 50 feet from a water source. Jones says the work will buy time for his division to come up with a permanent solution, whether chemical or biological, to permanently protect the hemlocks from the deadly pest.
Jones says hemlocks are an integral part of the natural history, beauty, and maintenance of the ecosystems found near streams and other waterways in the Upstate.
The treatment has proven successful in the spring on heavily visited areas such as Jocassee Gorges, Caesar’s Head Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, Long Shoals Roadside Park and Poe Creek, all state-owned properties in the mountainous Upstate of South Carolina. High priority areas include trees near headwater streams, park administration sites, camping sites, and hiking trails.