WVDA, Bayer stave off pests at Cathedral State Park


A cooperative project between the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) and Bayer CropScience is helping to preserve one of the last virgin Hemlock forests in the United States: Cathedral State Park.

WVDA completed the first year of a cooperative agreement to treat the park for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA), a non-native pest that damages and kills Hemlock trees by feeding on tree sap. Under the agreement, Bayer will provide its CoreTect insecticide for six years, which the WVDA will apply to one-third of the 133-acre forest every two years.

“The State of West Virginia is grateful to Bayer for their generous donation of their products,” said Walt Helmick, West Virginia commissioner of agriculture. “Places such as Cathedral forest are a benefit to all of us today, and will also be a benefit to future generations.”

Bayer’s CoreTect tree and shrub tablets deliver up to two years of insect control and must be spread around each tree individually. Over the past year, about 12 WVDA staff members were involved in the project, and treated 1,370 trees by hand.

And while the project requires a substantial labor investment by the WVDA, Tim Tomon, WVDA HWA coordinator, says the work is well worth it.

“The trees in this forest are 400 to 600 years old and some are as tall as 80 or 90 feet,” Tomon said. “This is work where you really feel like you’re doing something.”

Although treatments have been done in Cathedral State Park in the past, Tomon added, nothing of this scale has ever been attempted because of a lack of resources.

Joe Steinlage, insecticides business manager at Bayer , said his company is pleased to be able to help with the project.

“Cathedral State Park is a National Natural Landmark, and the last virgin timber tract remaining in West Virginia,” he said. “Bayer is proud to be able to supply our easy-to-use CoreTect tablets to help preserve and protect this important natural resource and the delicate ecosystems these Hemlock trees support.”

WVDA has conducted treatments on public lands since 2004, and is starting its third year of a public/private effort to treat for HWA in private forests.

The HWA is native to Asia and was first reported in the Eastern United States in 1951 near Richmond, Va., and in West Virginia in 1992. By 2005, it was established in portions of 16 states from Maine to Georgia. Hemlock decline and mortality typically occur within four to 10 years of infestation in the insect’s northern range, but can occur in as little as three to six years in its southern range.

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