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Hemlock event offers update on tree health
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Hemlock Update and Winter Botany

When: Noon-4 p.m. Feb. 11

Where: Smithgall Woods State Park, 61 Tsalaki Trail, Helen

How much: $10, plus $5 parking

Contact: Must pre-register; call 706-878-3087

The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid may be a pesky predator, but the Smithgall Woods State Park staff and volunteers aren't giving up without a fight.

The Smithgall team has been busy trying to loosen the bug's grip on the state park's Eastern Hemlock trees. This weekend, they'll give an update on their progress.

From noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, the group will hold Hemlock Update and Winter Botany at the park, 61 Tsalaki Trail in Helen.

So far, more than 1,700 Smithgall trees have been treated for the insect, which has killed many of the hemlock trees between Virginia and Northeast Georgia. Smithgall volunteers and staff have been injecting a chemical that is said to exterminate the agelid for five years into the ground near the park's hemlock trees. They have been monitoring the trees to see if the chemical has been effective.

The hemlock adelgid has plagued Northeast Georgia since 2002. According to the U.S. Forest Service, more than two dozen Hemlock Woolly Adelgid infestations have been reported in Hall, White, Lumpkin, Dawson, Union and Banks counties.

Following the hemlock update, botanist Jim Sullivan will demonstrate how to identify plants in the winter. After the winter botany lesson, there will be a short hike to identify local plants.

There is a $10 fee for the session, plus the regular $5 parking fee. Attendees must register in advance by calling the state park.