From the Ecology and Forest Care Committees:
The Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network (ISN) is conducting surveys throughout the region to determine the presence of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), a potential threat to the hemlocks in our environment. They will include an appraisal of hemlocks on CSA common grounds. ISN would also like to include private properties in their search. In order to do this, they need permission from property owners.
Below is information about the insect, the timing of the survey, and the permission form required to survey the trees on your property. This form and your questions can be addressed to:
Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network
Invasive Species Specialist
Grand Traverse Conservation District
1450 Cass Rd. Traverse City, MI 49685
Office: (231)941-0960 x18
Cell: (231) 268-4620
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is a small insect that attaches to the base of the hemlock needles and sucks the nutrients from the tree. The hemlock senses something wrong with that branch, and does what's called “self-pruning” - it stops sending nutrients to that branch. Unfortunately, HWA is a prolific spreader once in a tree, and this causes the hemlock to eventually kill itself. It takes about 5-10 years for death to happen, however, which gives us time to treat infected trees. Right now, there have been no reports of HWA in the ISN service area (Manistee, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau) so we're being proactive right now! The closest report to us is in northern Oceana County.
Surveys start in January and run until the end of April. Property owners don't need to be on the property, though any information about the property (primarily, where the best place is to park, whether roads/driveways will be plowed) is appreciated! We walk through the property, checking up to 30 hemlocks per acre by flipping over four branches on each tree to check the undersides. It's a very easy and straightforward survey, with no damage to the trees! Because of the Michigan Invasives Species Grant Program, there is zero cost to property owners for survey.
Please compete the permission form by clicking this link and mailing it to the adddress above: Hemlock Woolly Adelgid ISN Permission Form
The Problem: CSA forests are under continued threat! Emerald Ash Borer has killed over 10% of our forest. Now a much worse threat is upon us: Beech Bark Disease. Beech trees make up a large part of the tree canopy of the CSA and create the character of the forest we know today. The good news is that there are now options to protect and treat these incredible trees. It will cost less and may last longer than the Ash Borer treatment.
What is Beech Bark Disease? Beech bark disease (BBD) is caused by both an insect scale and a fungus. First, the tree becomes covered with a white, wool-looking substance (see photo). The presence of scale allows infection by the Neonectria fungi which then kills the wood, blocking the flow of sap. Affected trees decline in health and eventually die, or they break off in heavy winds before dying – a condition called "beech snap". The earlier an infected tree is treated, the better its chances to survive. Between 3 and 10% of the beech trees are resistant to BBD. We do have resistant trees at CSA.
What is at risk? The CSA canopy is dominated by Beech trees. A number of Beech Trees at the Assembly are over 100 feet tall and were saplings around the time of the Civil War. We are now about 5 years into BBD at the Assembly. Time is running short but there is still time to effectively treat the trees. Untreated trees near roads, cottages, or other valuable trees should be removed in the next couple years before they become weak and “snap”. If we leave the trees to die they will potentially become a hazard to people and property, and become too dangerous for tree companies to easily remove. Beech trees can be very expensive to remove, and are relatively inexpensive to treat. Dan Schillinger, The Tree Doctor, has only lost 2 of >100 trees in the past 10 years.
What is the CSA doing? In 2017 and 2018 the CSA board committed $15,000 to treating beech trees on CSA property. The Forest Care committee did a survey 102 beech trees on common property. We then contracted with Steve Fouch to do treatment on 71 trees and with Dan Schillinger to treat 17 trees. Dan did a more extensive treatment removing scale and then treating with a pesticide all the way up the tree trunk. You can see metal tags of trees that were treated. We will follow up in 2019 and 2020 to compare the two treatment methods.
What can you do? Survey your property to see if there are Beech trees. Appreciate the canopy they provide. Are they scale infected? If it was to snap, would it be a risk? If you are interested in getting treated please contact “Tree Doctor” Dan Schillinger at 231-633-8733 or . You will need to mark trees with plastic tape and put your phone number and email right on the tape so Dan can follow up with you. If you have a Beech tree with no sign of scale, this is fantastic. Please let us know so we can track the resistant trees. We may want to transplant some resistant seedlings to other places in the CSA.
Take a look at the condition of the forest around you. Is it healthy? Are there young trees in the understory? Are there signs of erosion? If large trees come down will there be something to take its place? Talk to the Ecology committee about how to monitor and remove invasive species and how to care for your forest understory.