Bugs Create Falling Tree Danger, Camping Ban In Pickens Co. Pres - WSPA.com

Bugs Create Falling Tree Danger, Camping Ban In Pickens Co. Preserve

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A dying tree in Pickens County A dying tree in Pickens County

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is warning people not to camp in the Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve in Jocasee Gorges.

There is a high risk of the trees falling over because of bugs eating away at Hemlocks.

A camper violated the ban last week and was seriously injured, according to DNR.

The pests responsible for the falling Hemlocks are called Woolly Adelgids.

"On the underside of the foliage you'll see little white almost looks like the tip of cue tips," Clemson University professor Joe Culin said.

The species invaded from Asia many decades ago, but didn't strike the Upstate until the 2000s.

Piercing into the needles, the bugs eventually cause the trees to go bare.

"A lot of the big old hemlocks have gone. They were the first things hit and they were hit pretty hard," Culin said.

The US Forest Service helped develop a program with Clemson and other universities to put predator bugs that kill the Adelgids into the forests.

The program has seen some success in isolated areas.

"Small hemlocks are at least holding their own at this point so hopefully we won't lose them entirely," Culin said.

Along with a camping ban, DNR doesn't want anyone lighting campfires because all the dead trees are creating plenty of kindling for a potential fire.

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