Monday, August 6, 2012


ISO 400, f/20, 1/85 Second, 19mm
  On the ascent to the peak at Clingman's Dome, we noticed several types of blooming flowers including the bright red Bee Balm in the foreground of the above image.
  At the other end of the spectrum, we also noticed the adverse effects of Mother Nature as in the dying Hemlock Trees in the back ground.
  Over the past 3 years I have spent a great deal of time in the Smokies and the Cherokee National Forest and have grown very attached to the forests.  I have learned a lot about some of the native plants, flowers, and trees and really find myself paying attention to how I treat them and behave myself around them so I don't damage or threaten them.
  I have never claimed to be a conservationist but when I read what was happening to the Eastern Hemlock trees in the Great Smoky Mountains, because of my love for the forests, it struck a chord with me.
  I was trying to find a new hiking trail in the Smokies and found several cases where you hike through an old growth "Hemlock Forest". I had no idea what a hemlock was so I started searching to find out about them. What I found out was that these potential giants (Eastern Hemlocks can grow up to 150 feet tall and are considered the Redwoods of the Smokies) are being attacked by an insect that is not native to the Smokies but is wiping out thousands of them. The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is the insect that is the guilty party. It attaches itself to the needles of the tree and feeds on the sap of the tree and steals the nutrients the tree needs to survive. The needles fall off eventually killing the trees because the needles feed the rest of the tree.
  Fortunately, the National Park is battling against this little aphid like insect by spraying insecticides and by introducing Predatory Beetles that feed exclusively on the Woolly Adelgid into the park. Both methods are showing initially positive results and hopefully will cure the problem but it will take some time to tell.

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