The State of Georgia desperately needs your help. As you have probably heard, the hemlock trees in North Georgia are now under attack by a tiny insect called the hemlock woolly adelgid.
At present it is devastating hemlocks in Rabun County and is spreading fast across other counties. If we cannot get this terrible pest under control, the citizens of our state stand to lose over 50, 000 acres of hemlocks. Most of these trees stand along rivers and streams where they add protection to many species of plants and animals, provide wonderful aesthetic beauty to some of our favorite hiking, camping, and recreation spots, and help purify the waters that begin their fresh flow in our North Georgia Mountains.
If we lose these hemlocks, it will have deleterious long-term effects on our ecosystems, tourism, property values, and our economy. Hemlock woolly adelgids cannot be controlled in the forest by chemical means. Thus, many local groups and organization have joined forces to help combat the loss of these beloved trees by trying to raise money for a laboratory at the University of Georgia that will help implement biological controls. This lab will raise three varieties of predatory beetles that feed only on adelgids.
When the lab becomes operational, the Department of Natural Resources, the Forestry Commission, and the USDA Forest Service stand ready to begin planned releases of beetles so that, hopefully, at least 50% of our hemlocks can be saved, preserving our favorite parks, hiking, and fishing areas in North Georgia.
If we hope to slow the spread of the hemlock woolly adelgid and have a fighting chance against this prolific breeder, we need to get the beetle lab running by January 2006. The timing is urgent. The University of Georgia has already generously provided a building and equipment, but there are start-up costs of $81,000 for the air conditioning and infrastructure to raise the beetles. Because of ownership and service considerations, these funds must come from private citizens. So far, various organizations have raised a little more than $32, 000, but it is not yet enough.
Will you please help? The members of Lumpkin Coalition, the Lumpkin County Democrats, and Forest Watch ask that you consider a contribution to this effort. Your donation will be tax deductible and help preserve the quality of life we all enjoy in North Georgia.
You may make your check out to Forest Watch and send it to Forest Watch, 15 Tower Road, Ellijay, GA, 30540. Please put “beetle lab” on the bottom of your check. Or, you may make your contribution using PayPal at www.gafw.org.
If, for whatever reasons, we cannot get the lab operational, your money will be returned to you. Please consider your donation as a gift to these beautiful trees and to the children of Georgia in hopes that they may enjoy the beauty of our mountains as we do.
Dr. Mark Shearer
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