NY State Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS) Spotlight

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JHarkness
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NY State Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS) Spotlight

Post by JHarkness » Sat Jul 14, 2018 11:16 am

ENTS,

I received and e-mail this morning from NY State with a link to this article on the Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS).

https://nystateparks.blog/2018/07/14/in ... ock-scale/

While this article is not particularly detailed, it's a start. During my communications (argument is a more accurate word) with NY State's DEC over the effects of EHS on eastern hemlocks on countless private and state-owned properties in southern and eastern New York, the DEC repeatedly claimed that EHS does not harm our hemlocks and ignored me when I sent them photos of dead and dying hemlocks on my property with EHS and no signs of HWA, they even claimed that I misidentified HWA as EHS in one photo. After many arguments with them, I finally got the response, "we are continuing to get more reports of EHS throughout NY State and we recognize that it is causing extensive damage, we will be studying the pest and working to develop treatment options". They also eventually admitted that they didn't have the funding to study the pest and wouldn't do so unless multiple severe cases get reported. I imagine this is true for other agencies responsible for hemlock care and treatment.

Prior to my initial reports of the pest, there had been very few sightings of it throughout the state, it seems that I drew attention to the problem as there have been many reports from others since. That goes to show that if one ordinary person hadn't noticed this and spoken up about it, our hemlocks could have a much worse future than is commonly believed.

Anyone on the BBS located within the range of the eastern hemlock should keep an eye out for this pest and report it to the appropriate agencies if found, if more people start noticing the EHS and speaking up about it, more can be done for our hemlocks.

Joshua
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: NY State Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS) Spotlight

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:59 am

Thank you for the info. While HWA has just started appearing in my region, I rarely see any sort of scale on hemlocks out here. In the eastern part of the state I recall seeing a lot. As it has been known for some time but not considered seriously destructive, I wonder if it's a pest which can be present and non-threatening under "normal" circumstances, but become destructive when conditions are right. Sort of like the pine beetle out west. The DEC can be a slow-moving beast to be sure, I imagine that determining where to allocate resources when funding and staff on the ground are often stretched tight is a delicate balancing act. Bear in mind that they get a lot of histrionic reports from genuine loonies! Your continued efforts to raise awareness are commendable- they do need the corroboration in order to know that it's an issue worth pulling staff from other matters to investigate. I would recommend that getting in touch with your region's chapter of PRISM may get you further, faster- the DEC relies heavily on them when it comes to invasive species issues, and they are a more flexible and invasive-oriented body (who always need volunteers for both monitoring and mitigation, btw).

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JHarkness
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Re: NY State Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS) Spotlight

Post by JHarkness » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:27 am

Erik,

I had planned to reach out to my NY State PRISM, but I decided not to when I realized that my PRISM is the same one as NY City, even though I'm not in the NY City suburbs or metro area. The NY State Hemlock Initiative, who I've been in contact with, told me that the NY City PRISM had no plans to document hemlock infestations as it's apparently "too late" to do anything. I figured the best thing to do would be to directly contact the DEC over the issue, and it seems to have been best, but now that they have an awareness of the issue, it probably would be a good time to get involved with the NY City PRISM, and perhaps other nearby ones as well. I actually lucked out as I reported a number of the infestations to the NY State iMapInvasives site, they put me in touch with someone from the DEC, and that's how it came to their attention. Curiously, there had only been a few reports of it before I reported it, but there has been an explosion of new reports since, from all over the state, there's even been one reported in the Adirondacks. Oddly enough, many of the sightings are old, some dating back to 2009, but they weren't reported until this spring and summer.


I suspect you're right about how it becomes bad in some locations while it doesn't effect others. One thing I've noticed is that trees with HWA tend to have less scale than those without, perhaps they can't compete with the HWA. Our winters here regulate (or rather used to) the HWA, we got it bad a few times but it was often killed off after the first winter. But the scale is unfortunately more cold hardy which I believe is why it's so prevalent in my area, where as both are common south and west of here. Interestingly, my property is the most northerly of the sites in the Taconics where I've documented HWA, but all the others have scale.


Hopefully if enough people keep finding and reporting the EHS something will be done before it gets too far out of hand, the Adirondacks should be a priority, I have a fear that it's made it's way there, it's quite cold hardy and has already made it to the White Mountains, it doesn't seem likely that there is only the one infestation there.

Joshua
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Erik Danielsen
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Re: NY State Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS) Spotlight

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:54 am

I'm really surprised to hear that that's what you were told. Friends of mine in NYC have voiced irritation that the Lower Hudson Prism (which you're covered by, along with just part of NYC) did very little in NYC, concentrating on the larger counties to its north. NYC has vast resources to apply within its jurisdiction if it cares anyways, so an emphasis on the other counties strikes me as sensible. I attended a Lower Hudson PRISM meeting last year (in Orange County) and updates on HWA treatment in at least one Westchester County site (Mianus River Gorge) was a major subject of interest.

I don't think there's any reason to believe the Lower Hudson PRISM wouldn't be interested. Bear in mind that their function revolves around coordinating efforts of many localized partner organizations- they don't have the staff to do the bulk of the work themselves. Figuring out who you can partner with locally and bringing opportunities to the table (as opposed to just asking them to do something about it) is probably what would make the most headway.

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Re: NY State Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS) Spotlight

Post by JHarkness » Sun Jul 15, 2018 12:36 pm

That's good to know, I suppose I'll have to get in touch with them then. Perhaps it was just the Hemlock Initiative's attitude, I got a sense of "doom and gloom" from them. I read about the treatment they did at Mianus River Gorge and was quite surprised by it, as they claimed that it's "too late" to do anything for any hemlocks outside of the Adirondacks. In fact I was told by them at one point to cut down all of my hemlocks....
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Erik Danielsen
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Re: NY State Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS) Spotlight

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Jul 16, 2018 7:54 am

I'm really surprised to hear that that's the attitude you encountered. Their content and postings on facebook usually seem so optimistic. Then again, I've only been following them for less than a year; perhaps their leadership or direction have changed? At the least, even if a stand of hemlocks is declared "doomed" I would hope the insights from recently published "Hemlock: a Forest Giant on the Edge" would guide a bit more sophistication in the management options available to landowners.

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Re: NY State Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS) Spotlight

Post by JHarkness » Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:25 am

I thought that their website seemed very optimistic as well and I was surprised to hear about not one, but several treatments in Westchester County. Perhaps I just had poor luck and ended up with the negative members of their organization?
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Erik Danielsen
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Re: NY State Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS) Spotlight

Post by Erik Danielsen » Mon Jul 16, 2018 3:26 pm

That certainly seems possible. I wonder how volunteer-dependant they are for things like fielding phone calls? When I was living in NYC I worked for the Compost Project (a division of sanitation) in a mostly educational and coordination role, supporting community gardens, providing workshops, things like that. Now, composting amd other forms of recycling organic wastes (and recycling in general) are way more controversial in the city than they ought to be. One of our programs was to train an annual class of volunteer "master composters" (like master gardener classes) to serve as resources and ambassadors in their communities. You'd get some great people who could learn and communicate on a high level in these classes, but you would also get a lot of people who clearly had serious personality issues, paranoias, probably some diagnosed mental health issues, etc. There were clearly reasons why some folks had so much time for volunteering. We'd have them participate in public outreach events with us, to practice in educating the public- and it was shocking to me how many times I would have to pull one of them aside to ask why on earth they were spreading outright misinformation, much of it very negative, in contradiction to the materials we were handing out, their classes, basic logic, etc. and it was often clear that while many of them meant well, they were just not high-functioning processors of information. I understand from friends in other fields that this is not unvommon in volunteer-dependant organizations. It is dofficult to "police" these kinds of behaviors (and does not feel good to do) but organizations are often in a "beggars can't be choosers" position when it comes to finding volunteer labor.

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Re: NY State Elongate Hemlock Scale (EHS) Spotlight

Post by JHarkness » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:15 pm

Erik,

That doesn't surprise me, sadly. I don't believe that was the case with the Hemlock Initiative's staff and volunteers I met, I think they were just very uptight, which I find rather surprising for someone in their field. Those who I've communicated with online were much less "doom and gloom", and admitted that they don't have the funding to do research on EHS, but they never said it was "too late" to do anything like the ones I met did.

Joshua
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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