"This is the possibility of an extinction from Kentucky's natural areas," said Alice Mandt, an environmental technologist with the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission and a co-founder of the Save Kentucky's Hemlocks organization.
According to Mandt
the adelgid was first discovered in Kentucky in 2006, and since its discovery here the insect has been identified in eight Eastern Kentucky counties, including Powell County
to the Red River Gorge and the Natural Bridge State Park.
"We have seen several dead hemlocks in Kentucky, but right now one of our biggest problems is the general public does not know what to look for," she
"Besides the white wooly masses on the underside of the tree's needles, landowners should look for a reduction in new growth, needle drop, thinning in the crown and branch tip dieback."
had never heard of the adelgid until the day it was discovered in Kentucky, and she
remembers an overwhelming sense of sadness and helplessness from everyone.
Later, when she
and others were hiking in an old-growth hemlock forest, they sat down and said: "'What can we do?
We cannot lose these trees.' And that's the day we formed Save Kentucky's Hemlocks."
Save Kentucky's Hemlocks
is a partnership of citizens, nonprofits, universities and government agencies working in tandem to help offset the destruction caused by the adelgid, which doesn't include just tree loss, but potential damage to adjacent properties and land when dead trees are left to linger.
Right now the organization is trying to inform the public about the problem to try to prevent further damage by working with landowners and ecologists in Kentucky.
"We are starting to prioritize the natural areas that are old-growth hemlock forests, areas that have rare species, trees that have some historical value or might be standing next to a historical building - things that would be important to Kentuckians," Mandt