Last month when we drove around the Smoky Mountains on a long weekend visit, I noticed so many dead trees in the landscape. The dead trees stood out in stark contrast to the greenery of summer on the mountain slopes.
Today I finally investigated why there are so many dead trees. It turns out they have been hit by a non-native invasive insect called a Woolly Adelgid. This insect is killing off the hemlock trees that are considered the “redwoods” of the east.
I took the photo above at one of the overlooks along the road from Cherokee, North Carolina to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Can you spot all of the dead trees in the mountain landscape? It is heartbreaking to view and the knowledge that the ecosystem of these mountain areas is forever damaged is so sad.
The National Park Service is fighting this invasion with all they’ve got.
See Gatlinburg blogger and artist William Britten’s article about it here.
Kevin Adams also writes about it on his site.