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Invasive hemlock woolly adelgid forces closure of Old Indian Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes

Hemlock woolly adelgid (Conn. Agricultural Experiment Station)

BENZIE COUNTY — The National Park Service says Old Indian Trail and surrounding area of the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Empire will be closed due to invasive hemlock woolly adelgid.

Surveys in January and February found a large infestation on the southern boundary of the National Lakeshore. Plans are in development to treat the area and reopen the trail by this fall.

Adelgids are insects that steal nutrients from hemlock trees at the base of the needles. In the fall and winter, they cover themselves with a white, waxy coating that gives them their “woolly” appearance.


The invasive insect has been moving north along the Lake Michigan coastline since 2015. It spreads by wind, on wildlife, clothing and vehicles, and by moving firewood.

Since 2018, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has conducted annual winter monitoring surveys in hemlock groves throughout the park.

You can help slow the spread by following these recommendations:

Hemlock trees provide food, shade and cover for many species of birds and mammals. Eastern hemlock trees often grow around freshwater rivers and streams, and their shallow roots help to stabilize the soil and limit erosion.

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