Britney and Keith assess a giant


John prepares for treatment

With the fast pace of life today most of us are increasingly aware of the many reasons to be thankful for trees: they filter our air and improve our soil, they provide shade and critical homes for wildlife. They improve our views, reduce our stress, and bring us together…but they also need our help.


Kristen plants a tree for research

That is why this Thanksgiving season the Hemlock Restoration Initiative wants to honor our intrepid volunteers. Without the tireless work of these dedicated individuals our North Carolina mountains would have far fewer trees to be thankful for.


Lisa tends to the next generation


Nick and Magda mix chemicals

In 2016 alone, HRI volunteers have extended the lives of over 1,000 hemlock trees from the tiny seedlings of the next generation to towering giants who have borne witness to more holiday seasons than any of us will ever know.

This year, over 80 hemlock heroes have participated in 12 workdays and events utilizing the diverse range of tools at our disposal to fight the dreaded hemlock woolly adelgid and restore eastern and Carolina hemlocks to long term health throughout their native range here in North Carolina.


Randy ready for action


Jack & Nick look for beetles

On a typical hemlock treatment workday, our volunteers brave uneven terrain and snagging branches to ensure that the hemlocks they encounter receive chemical protection, extending the lives of these trees for up to five years or longer.

Our tireless volunteers climb mountains and navigate urban jungles to release and monitor predator beetles in the ongoing effort to ween our trees off of chemicals and establish a permanent, biological solution to the problem of HWA. They come from far and wide to dirty their hands, participating in ground breaking research aimed at establishing pest resistance in our native hemlocks with an eye toward future forest restoration.

Carolina Hemlock Bluff, Chapman Road

John and Mary release beetles in Montreat


David readies young trees for research


UNCA student, Fatin, Haywood master gardener, Donna, and Boone arborist, BonScott, deep in collaboration

Some volunteers join us only once, gaining practical knowledge to take away, to pass on to others and to apply to their own lives and lands.  Others return again and again, bringing their exuberance and expertise to our endeavors. Our volunteers come from all walks of life—students, homeowners, conservation professionals and concerned citizens—and while their motivations may differ, the results of their participation are the same: healthier forests with more hemlocks for all of us to enjoy!


Getting oriented for the work ahead

We are inspired by the talent and generosity that these volunteers bring to our organization and are humbled by their joy and dedication to improving the world that we all share. On behalf of the Hemlock Restoration Initiative:

THANK YOU to everyone who has taken time out of their busy lives to come out and work for this cause. You have done good, the effects of which will ripple outwards for years to come. We are deeply thankful and we hope to see you all again (and new faces too!) for the work that lies ahead in 2017.


Lee and Frank, all smiles after a hard days work


Braving the cold to save Holmes’ hemlocks




To a warm and happy holiday season, with love and gratitude- the HRI

Please follow this link to browse the full photo gallery and get a close up look at what our courageous volunteers have been up to in 2016:


To become a hemlock hero in 2017 please contact us directly at:


David and Gray tackling HWA


Sandy Mush clean-up & hemlock treatment with Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy



AmeriCorps Project Conserve 2016/17 National Public Lands Day at Holmes Educational State Forest