A $300,000 recurring allocation for the HRI, a program of Asheville-based nonprofit WNC Communities, stalled in the N.C. General Assembly due to partisan gridlock over the state budget. A joint proclamation between the HRI and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services now aims to make the hemlock’s future more secure.
“If you drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, hike in Pisgah National Forest or on the Appalachian Trail, visit Mount Mitchell or the high elevations of the Smokies, you will find yourself in this forest, and you should know how singular it is.”
Funding from Buncombe County and the state is going toward the continuing fight against the hemlock woolly adelgid. As part of the effort new predator beetles are being released and a combination of biological and chemical tactics are being deployed in Western North Carolina.
Since the 1950s, multitudes of Appalachian-native hemlocks have been sucked dry by an invasive, non-native insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid. But in the last 15 years, entomologists have discovered, captured and released a beetle, native to the Pacific Northwest, that may be the key to the hemlocks’ survival.