State group trying to help hemlocks

Contemplate the manpower-intensive task of trying to save 90,000 hemlocks in the 16,181-acre Fall Creek Falls State Park.

Then multiply that labor by hemlock stands in most of the 55 other Tennessee public parks, in at least 20 North Georgia state parks, in two national forests in each state, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and in about 100 wildlife management areas operated by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

"We can't save them all," said Stuart Carroll, an interpretive specialist at Fall Creek Falls State Park. "Best case scenario? We save 20 percent. Worst case: We lose 99 percent of them."

Why all this work? To prevent the hemlocks from turning into bleached, skelet- onized snags of wood, denuded and sucked dry of sap by a pinhead-sized invader, a bug called hemlock woolly adelgid.