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A Call for Citizen Scientists!

Posted on Dec 1, 2016

Although the winter season will soon be in full force here in Western NY, this is actually the best time to explore the area’s forests – at least when searching for an invasive pest known as Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA). HWA is an aphid-like insect, originating from Asia, which veils itself under white, woolly masses as it feeds on sap at the base of hemlock tree needles. An individual tree will succumb to HWA in under a decade if an infestation goes unnoticed. This deadly bug has been progressively moving in on Western New York as it has spread throughout much of the eastern United States. HWA is becoming an increasing threat to the forests within the Chautauqua County, as evidenced by the recent discovery of infestations in Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area, Allegany State Park, and the SUNY Fredonia College woodlot. Early detection of HWA is critical in order to successfully manage the spread of this forest this pest.

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Throughout the months of January and February, representatives from the Roger Tory Peterson Institute (RTPI), Jamestown Community College (JCC) and Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy (CWC) will collaboratively survey a number of sites within our area for the presence of HWA, and they are looking for volunteer ‘Citizen Scientists’ to contribute to these important efforts. Prior to the first survey, Roger Tory Peterson Institute will host a Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Citizen Scientist training at their headquarters on Thursday December 8th at 6PM. During this session, Conservation Technician Elyse Henshaw will describe the impact HWA is having on forests throughout the eastern United States, identify the signs and symptoms of an infestation, and explain the best course of action when this problematic pest is discovered. Attendees will also be introduced current survey techniques and guided through the process of reporting relevant data. Once equipped with this knowledge, citizens are invited to assist with field surveys alongside RTPI, CWC and JCC to monitor for the presence of HWA in our local forests.

 

The survey schedule is as follows:
• Saturday January 7th @ 9:30AM-Kick off survey at Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy’s (CWC) Dobbin’s Woods Preserve
• Friday January 13th @ 12:30PM-Survey at CWC’s Cassadaga Creek Preserve
• Saturday January 21st @ 9:30AM- Survey at CWC’s Elm Flats 1st Preserve
• Friday January 27th @ 12:30PM-Survey at NYS DEC’s South Valley State Forest
• Saturday February 4th @ 9:30AM- Survey at NYS DEC’s North Harmony State Forest
• Friday February 10th @ 12:30PM-Survey at the Jamestown Community College and Roger Tory Peterson Institute’s preserves
• Saturday February 18th @ 9:30AM- Survey at the Warren County Conservation District’s Hatch Run Conservation Demonstration Area
• Friday February 24th @ 12:30PM- Survey at CWC’s Goose Creek Valley Greenway Preserve

 

Anyone is welcome to join these efforts – those who were unable to attend the pre-season training will be provided with an on-site orientation. Participants should come prepared for cold weather and snow with warm layers and boots – snow pants and snow shoes or cross country skis are highly recommended when snow pack is deep. Prior to each Friday survey, participants will meet in the RTPI parking lot at 12:00pm to facilitate carpooling. Note that – for Saturday surveys – the group will meet on site. Visit www.rtpi.org or http://chautauquawatershed.org/ for additional information and directions to each site Questions about the training session or survey efforts can be directed to Elyse Henshaw (RTPI) at [email protected] or by calling 716-665-2473 ext. 231.