Erie County looking for volunteers amid spread of invasive species

Erie County

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) — There’s a threat to western New York’s eastern hemlock trees, and Erie County is looking to educate locals on it.

Next month, the Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry will work with WNY PRISM, the Cornell University Cooperative Extension and the NYS Hemlock Initiative to present an educational event on the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA).

This invasive, aphid-like pest is a threat to eastern hemlock trees — a critical part of forest ecosystems.

“Invasive species like HWA pose a serious and ongoing threat to the health of our forests and as Erie County has over 10,000 acres of parkland we need to act to protect these natural spaces. Hemlocks are a vital part of our tree inventory and are considered a foundation species so the loss of them would deal a serious blow to our parks,” Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Troy P. Schinzel, said. “I am looking forward to working with our partners and the public on this educational outreach effort, collaborating to preserve our hemlocks and slow the advance of HWA.”

County officials are seeking volunteers to help spot infestations of the HWA. The educational event will take place at the Chestnut Ridge Park Commissioner’s Cabin on February 8 at 10:30 a.m.

If inclement weather occurs, the event will be postponed by a day.

Pre-registration is encouraged at this link. For questions, email wnyprism@buffalostate.edu or call (716) 878-4708.

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