Friday, April 9, 2010

Volunteers needed for Smokies ash tree research

Last year over 50 Citizen Scientist volunteers helped researchers collect scientific data on ash trees by mapping the locations of hundreds of these trees in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The mapping project, which will take several years to complete, will be used to monitor future threats from a nonnative insect. People are again being invited to join park biologists and educators during a field day on Saturday, April 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Greenbrier area of the park. Volunteers will learn how to identify ash and other common trees found in the Smoky Mountains, read a topographic map, and use a GPS (Global Positioning System) unit.

The ash trees are at risk from the invasive, non-native Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a beetle that can travel undetected in firewood and nursery stock from quarantined areas of the country into new locations in the Park. In 2009 the park installed EAB traps near campgrounds and picnic areas as part of a detection plan. So far no EABs have been found.

This is the first of seven ash tree mapping days through the summer and fall that will be held in the Tennessee and North Carolina sides of the park. Other dates planned are June 9, July 31, August 28, September 11 and 25, and October 2. These are listed in the Events Calendar on the park’s website:

Volunteers should be prepared to hike up to 5 miles on park trails and in rough terrain off the main paths. It is recommended that participants wear long pants and comfortable closed-toe shoes or boots for hiking and bring snacks, water, sunscreen, and rain gear. Reservations are necessary and participation is limited to 16 people (children 12 and under must bring an adult). Contact Ranger Susan Simpson at 865-436-1200, ext. 762, to RSVP and for meeting location.

Jeff Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, hiking gear store, and more.

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