Like so many others, I followed the news stories as the fires were ongoing, but it is very different to visit. People all around town are actively picking up the pieces and rebuilding. These were devastating fires, a tragic reminder that we must be vigilant stewards of the environment we live in and ever aware of local climate conditions.
Our trip was productive and despite the damage caused by wildfires, there are still good sites with surviving hemlock where we can do the proposed research. We also got to see some of the largest living hemlock trees that I have personally had the pleasure of seeing. These beauties were over 100 feet tall! The foresters at GSMNP have treated over 250,000 hemlock trees! Obviously, they are working hard to preserve this vital tree species.