ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. — The Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry is hosting an educational event next month to inform people about hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) and the effect it has on our ecosystem. 

HWA is an invasive aphid-like forest pest, which is spreading through the forests in Western New York. HWA attacks Eastern Hemlock trees, which are a critical part of forest ecosystems, according to Erie County Parks.

“Invasive species like HWA pose a serious and ongoing threat to the health of our forests and as Erie County has over 10,000 acres of parkland we need to act to protect these natural spaces. Hemlocks are a vital part of our tree inventory and are considered a foundation species so the loss of them would deal a serious blow to our parks,” said Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Troy P. Schinzel. “I am looking forward to working with our partners and the public on this educational outreach effort, collaborating to preserve our hemlocks and slow the advance of HWA.”

Erie County Parks is hosting an informative event along with WNY PRISM, the Cornell University Cooperative Extension and the NYS Hemlock Initiative in February to help people identify and manage HWA. The event will also feature outdoor HWA survey training.

The event will take place Saturday, February 8 at 10:30 a.m. at the Chestnut Ridge Park Commissioner’s Cabin. Participants are encouraged to wear warm and sturdy footwear and to dress appropriately for the weather.

RELATED: 2 the Outdoors: The slumber of trees

RELATED: New tow rope installed at Chestnut Ridge Park

RELATED: Bald Eagle released back into the wild at Chestnut Ridge Park