On Saturday, March 7, 2015, join Mine Kill State Park staff, regional biologists and other volunteers to learn about the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) and its terrible effect on New York’s eastern hemlock trees. Participants will learn up-to-date details about the invasive pest with an informative presentation on the history, origins and current status of HWA in New York State by Cornell University Professor, Mark Whitmore. Other presenters will include volunteers from the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schoharie County and the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP). Following the presentation, guests will learn how to survey hemlock trees at the park for the presence of HWA. Data collected from the survey will be used to construct a comprehensive management plan for HWA at Mine Kill State Park and the New York Power Authority. Additional surveys will provide further information on the status effort to contain HWA and preserve as many of Mine Kill’s beautiful hemlocks as possible.
HWA was first discovered in the park in 2011 and has since been identified in many different areas surrounding Mine Kill State Park and New York Power Authority Blenheim-Gilboa property. HWA, a tiny insect native to Asia, lives and feeds on eastern hemlock trees (Tsuga Canadensis). Originally detected in the Southeast Appalachian Mountains in the 1960’s, HWA is capable of killing an otherwise healthy eastern hemlock tree in a matter of a few years. Many species of hemlock can survive infestation, but eastern hemlock is susceptible to the pest, which latch onto the trees and consume the stored starches that the trees need for growth and survival.
HWA is of particular cause for concern for New Yorkers, as New York is one of the most heavily forested states. And with hemlocks being the 4th most abundant tree species in both the State and region, the loss of hemlock stands would have a major impact in the Catskills, which rely greatly on forests for wood products, tourism, and ecosystem services. Additionally, the death of large stands of hemlocks could pose an increased wildfire risk and the risk of tree fall, both of which are major concerns for State Parks and the DEC.
The HWA presentation and survey will begin at 11 AM on Saturday, March 7th, at the New York Power Authority Blenheim-Gilboa Visitors Center, located approximately 1 mile north of Mine Kill State Park along Route 30 in North Blenheim, NY. Following the presentation in the NYPA theater, volunteers will be provided with a GPS, survey forms, a map and other surveying equipment to use in the field. Volunteer groups will survey a wide area of hemlocks surrounding the beautiful Blenheim-Gilboa Reservoir and Mine Kill State Park. All participants will return to the NYPA visitors’ center by 2:30PM to conclude the survey. Refreshments will be provided to volunteers during the event.
Please remember to bring proper hiking attire, footwear, snacks and water. Admission is free to all program participants and a limited number of snowshoes are available to use on a first come, first serve basis. For more information about this event, please contact the park office at (518) 827-8690.
Mine Kill State Park is located in the scenic Schoharie Valley overlooking the Power Authority’s Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project. The reservoir provides excellent fishing and boating opportunities. Mine Kill also boasts the only permanent, 18-hole disc golf course at a state park in the Saratoga-Capital Region. The eight miles of trails, including trails from the Park to the NYPA Visitor Center such as the nationally designated Long Path, are great for hiking, biking and birding. Cascading 80 feet through a narrow gorge is the picturesque Mine Kill Falls for which the Park is named.
For those who would like to extend their visit, nearby Max V. Shaul State Park is a small, quiet camping area with 30 wooded tent and trailer sites, picnic grounds, a state of the art playground and boat access along the Schoharie Creek. In addition to the Max V. Shaul trails and fishing opportunities, campers have free access to Mine Kill State Park and receive discounts at a variety of local tourist attractions and businesses.
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 180 state parks and 35 historic sites, which are visited by 60 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.nysparks.com, connect on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.