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December 20, 2010

Arborist enthusiastic about Whitewater River hemlocks treated by Duke Energy grant

A North Carolina arborist who recently re-treated hemlocks for adelgids along the Whitewater River in Oconee County thanks to a Duke Energy Foundation grant of $6,000 said most of the trees treated originally in 2008 look exceptionally healthy.

Of the 269 trees treated at Coon Branch Natural Area in 2008, only 18 had died, according to Will Blozan of Appalachian Arborists in Asheville, N.C., whose company completed both the 2008 and 2010 hemlock woolly adelgid treatments. The hemlocks were treated by soil injection with insecticides that will be taken up by the trees’ vascular systems, hopefully killing the adelgids. Without the treatments, the hemlocks would likely die within the next two to four years.

"In contrast to our observations in 2008, the understory and large trees in this project are not only recovering but have regained vigorous new growth and begun reproduction," Blozan said. "Crown density on some trees remains low, but the new growth is lush. The treatment success for the trees in this project was extremely high."

The 2008 original treatment of the hemlocks was funded by a $10,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation. It was the first-ever forest application of the fast-acting Safari insecticide, which had just been approved for use in South Carolina under a special local needs label. Blozan said based on the number of hemlocks that have survived and the lush new growth, it appears that the Safari application was an unqualified success.

The Coon Branch Natural Area Trail is a spur trail of the Foothills Trail, a 77-mile trail between Oconee State Park and Table Rock State Park. Coon Branch Natural Area, accessed through Duke Energy’s Bad Creek Hydro Project, is owned by Duke Energy and is part of the Jocassee Gorges lands that Duke placed under conservation easement.

The Duke Energy Foundation is the entity that distributes Duke Energy’s charitable contributions. Through the Duke Energy Foundation, the company is able to exemplify its commitment to the communities it serves by providing funding to eligible organizations with programs that support education, community vitality and a competitive work force.

The Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund facilitated management and disbursement of funds from the grant given by the Duke Energy Foundation for the hemlock treatment. The Hampton Fund, headquartered in Columbia, receives private funds to assist in educational and other endeavors designed to contribute to the conservation and protection of the wildlife, marine and other natural resources of the State of South Carolina.

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