Commissioner of Agriculture Gus R. Douglass has announced a program launched last year to help private landowners combat an invasive pest that is slowly killing West Virginia’s hemlock trees will be expanded to include additional counties this year.
The “Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) Cooperative Pilot Project” was conducted in Fayette and Nicholas counties last year. This year’s program will also include Summers and Raleigh counties.
“We found there was some interest in areas that weren’t included in the program last year, so we decided to expand the number of counties eligible for the program,” Douglass said.
“This is the first attempt by any state to assist private woodlot owners with HWA control,” said Quentin “Butch” Sayers, assistant director of the West Virginia Department of Agriculture’s (WVDA) Plant Industries Division.
“The cooperative aspects of it were modeled after our highly successful gypsy moth program, which enlists the resources of the WVDA, West Virginia Division of Forestry, National Park Service, USDA-Forest Service and private landowners.”
Treatments should protect trees for four-to-five years, and will be conducted by WVDA staff. Landowners accepted for the program must pay for an as-yet-undetermined portion of the treatments. Applying for the program does not obligate landowners to participate — they may back out if they feel their portion of the costs is too high.
Landowners must apply for the program by October 31, 2012, provide WVDA with a map of their property, and allow WVDA to evaluate their site to ensure it meets the project qualifications:
— Only private lands within the project area are eligible.
— More than 50 percent canopy cover of hemlocks.
— A woodlot with a minimum of five acres. Adjacent and otherwise eligible landowners may cooperate to meet the minimum acreage requirement.
— Landowners with less than five acres may qualify if the proposed treatment area is adjacent to land being managed for HWA.
— Trees must have more than 50 percent foliage.
— Trees may not have been treated within the last four years.
— Treatment must not pose a safety risk to WVDA field personnel.
— Pesticides used in treatments must be purchased directly by WVDA.
For more information, contact Quentin “Butch” Sayers at email@example.com, 304-788-1066; or Shawn McCauley at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-573-0768. Applications and brochures may be downloaded at www.wvagriculture.org/images/Plant_Industries/About_Us.html.