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For Release: Wednesday, October 29, 2014

DEC Announces Aggressive Plan to Prevent the Spread of Tree Invasive in Western New York

Through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy and Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Department of Environmental Conservation is taking action to prevent the spread of hemlock woolly adelgid (or HWA) into the Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area and Zoar Valley Unique Area, the agency announced today.

"Hemlock is a very important species ecologically, and we have seen the devastation that the adelgid can cause in places like the Hudson Valley, Catskills, the Finger Lakes, and neighboring states like Pennsylvania," State Forester Rob Davies said. "DEC will act quickly to protect these trees and knock HWA out of one of the most unique areas of our state, and hopefully keep it out for a long time."

This September, Cornell scientist Mark Whitmore discovered a single tree infested by Hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), or HWA, in Deer Lick Conservation Area, a Nature Conservancy property that is adjacent to Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area. Subsequent surveys by DEC foresters revealed two more trees, almost directly across the south branch of the Cattaraugus Creek from the first location. This is the first HWA detection in western New York.

DEC will use two systemic pesticides to treat the infested trees and approximately 600 trees around them, in an attempt to kill the pests and prevent HWA from spreading further into the Zoar Valley. The registered chemicals (dinotefuran and imidacloprid) will be applied by DEC certified pesticide applicators directly to the bark of the trees, where it will absorb into the vascular tissue. Dinotefuran moves rapidly through the tree, killing any adelgids that are feeding on it, while imidacloprid moves more slowly, protecting the tree from further attacks for five years or more.

HWA is an invasive insect species which kills hemlock trees, including Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). It multiplies very rapidly, taking moisture and nutrition from the twigs of the infested tree, and usually causing death within five to 10 years. HWA has been known in parts of New York for over 20 years, but this is the first detection of the pest in the Zoar Valley.

"Zoar Valley's serene and rugged beauty, recreational value and ecological health is dependent on the well-being of its majestic hemlock forests," says Jim Howe, The Nature Conservancy's Central & Western New York director. "Eastern hemlocks help maintain the region's deep gorges and shade and cool its streams. We're pleased to be collaborating with NY DEC and Cornell University to tackle hemlock woolly adelgid in this unique landscape."

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