By Stephanie SchupskaUniversity of GeorgiaWhen University of Georgia entomology professor Wayne Berisford travels to the north Georgia mountains for research these days, he’s got a lot less shade to hide under when he steps beneath a hemlock tree.The damage isn’t due to clear cutting or development. One tiny insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid, is to blame. The aphid-like pest is quickly killing hemlocks in the South.“The hemlock is a pretty unique tree,” Berisford said. “It will grow in dense shade. It grows well in poor soil by mountain streams and cools the streams for trout. They’re just really beautiful trees and a really important component of the mountains.”A hemlock’s death isn’t spectacular. The first evidence that it’s even infested with adelgids is that it doesn’t get much annual growth. It starts to lose its needles, its crown thins, and it looks gray.Hemlock woolly adelgids “eat the tree’s starch found in its needles and twigs,” Berisford said. The insect first appeared in the eastern United States in Roanoke, Va., in the 1950s. It stayed around there until the late 1980s, when it started north.In the northern U.S., mature hemlocks live seven to 10 years after they’ve been infested. But in the South, death comes more quickly.“The adelgid crossed the river from South Carolina in 2003,” Berisford said, “and we’ve seen a lot of tree mortality already.”Combating adelgidsHe and other scientists in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the U. S. Forest Service are working to stop the mass destruction. They’re conducting two studies now to see if different control approaches are effective.The first involves releasing predacious ladybird beetles into infested hemlock stands. This type of beetle has one specific food source: the woolly adelgid. The only problem is that they must be mature enough to both eat the adelgids and reproduce to sustain the beetle population.“As soon as ladybird beetle eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the eggs and young of the adelgids,” Berisford said. “For adult beetles, the eggs are a particularly high nutrient source.”In the second study, the researchers are injecting insecticide into the soil around the hemlocks. The trees then take up the insecticide through its roots, killing the adelgids. This experiment is being conducted specifically along streams to see if any chemical residue is harming delicate aquatic organisms.“Treatments took place on Nov. 1, 2005, and as of July 2006, we haven’t detected any major changes in the aquatic invertebrate community,” said Missy Churchel, an aquatic entomologist at UGA. She travels to the forest every two weeks to collect samples.At the UGA Mountain Research and Education Center in Blairsville, entomologist Kris Braman is researching ways to chemically control adelgids in commercial and home landscapes.“We want to find the safest, quickest control method,” she said. “Hemlocks are found more in home landscapes in north Georgia, but a lot of Georgians in the metro area are interested in our work because they own property in North Carolina near the Smoky Mountains where there are older, huge hemlocks.”This fall Berisford plans to begin a project revolving around rearing predacious beetles, especially ones native to the western U.S.A hemlock’s valueIn the past, hemlock was used for lumber, or the bark was used to tan skins. Its aesthetic value far outweighs any other value now. Berisford said many homeowners deeply treasure the trees.In fact, one couple approached him at a meeting about the problem and donated $20,000 toward adelgid research.The interest doesn’t stop with landowners. Support for UGA’s effort comes from Georgia Power Company, two divisions of the U.S. Forest Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Georgia Forestry Commission and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Several conservation groups, particularly Georgia Forestwatch and the Georgia Wildlife Federation, are raising funds for the project.“It’s a big deal because nobody wants to see the hemlocks die,” Berisford said.
Secretary of Administration Michael K. Smith Announces August 2004Revenue Results For The State Of VermontGeneral FundSecretary of Administration Michael K. Smith released September 7 General Fund revenue results forthe month of August, the second month of fiscal year 2005. General Fund revenues totaled$68.18 million for August 2004, $4.86 million or 7.7 % more than the $63.32 million consensusrevenue target for the month. August results were also $9.59 million (or 16.4%) more thanGeneral Fund revenues in August 2003. Year to date, General Fund revenues totaled $148.65million.Secretary Smith noted, We are encouraged that after two months, General Fundrevenues are $9.03 million or 6.5% ahead of expectations.The monthly targets reflect the updated fiscal year 2005 Consensus Revenue Forecast that wasagreed to by the Emergency Board on July 15, 2004. The States Consensus Revenue Forecast isupdated two times per year in January and July.Monthly Personal Income Tax receipts, which are reported Net-of-Personal Income Tax refunds,exceeded target by $1.69 million (or 6.5 %) in August. Personal Income Tax Receipts, by far thelargest single state revenue source, were also up 13.9% from August 2003.All personal incometax revenue categories had positive results except refunds, which were higher than expected.Secretary Smith noted results for the other major General Fund revenue categories were alsoencouraging.Receipts in the Sales and Use Tax were substantially ahead of expectations inAugust (+$1.89 million or 12.5 %), reflecting actual purchases in July. Rooms and Meals taxeswere essentially on target. The Corporate Income Tax also surpassed (+$0.28 million or 30.6%)forecast.Among the other General Fund revenue categories, Insurance and Liquor Taxes surpassed thelatest targets. Estate and Property Transfer Taxes fell short of the forecast for August, althoughboth are ahead of expectations for the first two months of the fiscal year.Secretary Smith concluded the discussion of General Fund results by noting that, We areencouraged to continue the broad-based revenue success which started the fiscal year.General Fund By Major Element (In Millions)Tax Component FY04 YTD FY05 YTD % Change Aug-03 Aug-04 % ChangePersonal Income $63.26 $68.71 8.6% $24.23 $27.60 13.9%Sales & Use $37.43 $36.01 -3.8% $17.09 $16.98 -0.6%Corporate $1.27 $2.65 108.3% $0.63 $1.19 89.2%Meals & Room $14.51 $19.05 31.3% $7.76 $9.99 28.7%Insurance Premium $5.04 $6.07 20.5% $4.76 $5.78 21.4%Inheritance & Estate $1.96 $3.90 99.2% $0.70 $0.32 -54.6%Real Property Transfer $1.78 $2.17 21.9% $0.61 $0.98 60.2%Other $6.53 $10.08 54.5%* $2.81 $5.34 90.1%Total $131.78 $148.65 12.8% $58.59 $68.18 16.4%*Please note that comparisons from prior year are difficult, given the change in tax componentdistribution from FY04 to FY05.Transportation FundSecretary Smith also announced revenue results for the Transportation Fund. TransportationFund receipts for the month were $18.98 million, which surpassed the revenue target by $0.25million or 1.35 %. Total Transportation Fund revenues surpassed August 2003 receipts by $1.01million or 5.6 %. Revenues surpassed projections in Gasoline, Motor Vehicle Fees, and theOther Fees category. Diesel Taxes substantially lagged expectations, while Motor VehiclePurchase and Use Tax revenues were slightly below projections for the month.Transportation Fund By Major Element (In Millions)FY2004 FY2005 % Change August-03 August-04 % ChangeTax Component Y-T-D Y-T-DGasoline $8.79 $11.44 30.1% $4.24 $6.21 46.3%Diesel Fuel $1.85 $1.98 7.0% $1.08 $1.11 3.4%MV Purchase & Use $11.18 $9.34 -16.5% $6.72 $5.25 -21.9%Motor Vehicle Fees $8.22 $9.47 15.2% $4.65 $4.73 1.7%Other $2.50 $3.20 27.9%* $1.27 $1.67 31.5%Total $32.54 $35.42 8.8% $17.97 $18.98 5.6%*Please note that comparisons from prior year are difficult, given the change in tax componentdistribution from FY04 to FY05.Education FundIn announcing the Education Fund results for August, Secretary Smith reported that collectionstotaled $12.84 million in August, up substantially from last year. Due to Act 68 EducationFinance Reform Legislation passed in 2003, the Education Fund now receives two percentagepoints (1/3 of the 6% tax) from the Vermont Sales Tax, and the motor vehicle purchase and usetax.Although Sales and Use taxes were ahead of projections, the motor vehicle purchase anduse tax performed below projections for August, said Secretary Smith.ConclusionThe State of Vermont continued fiscal 2005 ahead of forecast for the General Fund,Transportation Fund and Education Fund, concluded Secretary Smith.