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How to help save hemlock trees in Northeast Georgia
A hemlock woolly adelgid is seen on a hemlock tree branch. The invasive bug originally from Asia is less than 1/16 inch in size but has threatened hemlock trees since it began spreading south in Georgia in 2003. - photo by For The Times

Volunteers are needed Sept. 15 to help save hemlock trees from invasive insects in White County.

Save Georgia’s Hemlocks, a Dahlonega-based nonprofit, needs about 16 to 20 volunteers to treat about 200 hemlocks at the Raven Cliffs Trailhead and Low Gap Campground. Hemlocks are threatened by the hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive insect with no local predator.

Save Georgia’s Hemlocks partners with the U.S. Forest Service to preserve hemlocks in North Georgia. The Forest Service provides chemicals and helps Save Georgia’s Hemlocks determine what areas need to be treated.

Donna Shearer, founder and chair of Save Georgia’s Hemlocks, said hemlock trees are a crucial part of the ecosystem in the Appalachian mountain range and help preserve biodiversity in the forests.

“They protect shade-living native plants, they create a lot of habitat for animals in the forest, and one of their key roles along streams is keeping the streams shaded, cool and clear for the trout that live in the stream,” Shearer said.

Shearer moved to Dahlonega in 2002 and said her property has about 400 hemlock trees. She and her husband noticed that the trees were being attacked by insects, did their research and in 2009, founded Save Georgia’s Hemlocks, which has members all over North Georgia.

On Sept. 15, volunteers will meet at 9:30 a.m. and should be done by 3:30 p.m. Shearer said volunteers work in small teams with leaders who can help train new volunteers.

Registration is required for volunteers. To sign up, call Chris Disser at 678-978-6380 or email